Monday, January 30, 2012

Jury Duty

January seems to be a very depressing month in Utah.  The holidays are over.  I'm back to work.  It is COLD!  There always seems to be an inversion over the city, etc.  You get the picture.  The government decided to spice things up for me and called me to jury duty.  Here is the exciting details of my civic duty.

I drove to the courthouse in downtown Salt Lake City to report to jury duty.  There were a lot of people called for duty that day.  We were assigned to three different trials going on at the same time.  I was assigned to trial three.  The first trial group was released to go home by 9:30 AM and didn’t even have to go to a courtroom!  (Those were the lucky ones!)  The second group had to fill out a questionnaire and then was taken to a courtroom.  My group of about 26 people was led up to a courtroom last.  We sat in the juror seats while we were asked if we would be unbiased and then told about the case.  Then we were told that the prosecution and defendant get to choose three jurors each.  If we were closer to being the first juror, we would be more likely to be chosen.  Of course, I was the first juror on the list so I was selected to be a juror.  (I should have bought a lottery ticket that day since I was so lucky to be chosen!)  Besides the five other jurors, the rest of the group was released to leave.

I was grateful there was only one witness and the defendant chose not to take the witness stand.  The defendant was being charged with assault of an officer and disorderly conduct.  The witness was the officer claiming he was assaulted.  He gave a good testimony.  He was examined and cross examined.  Since the defendant waived his chance to take the stand, the court was adjourned to a lunch break of one hour.  (I would have foregone the lunch break and just got the case over!)  I sat and talked with my fellow jurors (not about the case!) for the hour in the cafeteria.

After lunch, we were read the instructions on how to be a juror and what to do in deliberation.  We were dismissed to deliberate and locked in a room.  Gratefully the people who had strong opinions agreed so the rest of us just went along with it.  We did stay in the room long enough to get the free snacks they sent us.  As soon as we had divvied up the snacks, we let the officer know we were done deliberating.  We found the defendant guilty of disorderly conduct but the prosecution did not prove without a reasonable doubt that the defendant was guilty of assault of an officer so we found the defendant not guilty of assault of an officer.  I was done with jury duty about 2:15 PM.

All done with my civic duty for another three years.  Nice!

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Holidays: Utah Edition

As many of you know, I have spent the last six years performing in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, TN.  I had a blast performing in the show, met wonderful friends, and enjoyed sleeping in.  I felt last year would probably be my last year performing in the show.  I did everything I wanted to do in Nashville, enjoyed every minute I had onstage, and even got a little choked up in my last scene.  (I talked myself out of crying by saying, "Elves don't cry!")  I wasn't surprised when I didn't get a call this year from Radio City asking me if I wanted a job.  I accepted it.  To all of you who wondered why I didn't perform in the Christmas Spectacular, there was your answer.  I wasn't offered a job!  I enjoyed everyone's awkwardness when they received their answer to that question (and, boy, did I get asked that a lot!)

Since I had the pleasure of a Utah holiday season, I decided to do everything I hadn't been able to do over the past six years.  Utah has a lot of wonderful things to do during the holidays.  Here's a quick run down of the events I participated in.

Thanksgiving:  I spent Thanksgiving at home.  My work gave us Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday off the week of Thanksgiving.  After six years of working on Thanksgiving, I enjoyed  having three whole days off!  On Thanksgiving, I ate as much as I wanted!  I didn't have to worry about running around a stage after the Thanksgiving feast.  My parents and I had my grandma, aunt, and uncle (on my Mom's side of the family) over for Thanksgiving.  It was nice to spend the whole day at home with my family.

Decorating the Tree:  For the first time in six years, I decorated a Christmas tree.  I got to put my own ornaments on the tree.  Growing up, I was given a Christmas ornament each year to remember an important event from that year.  I loved all the memories that came as I decorated the tree.  Here's a bad picture of the finished product.

Decorating the Office:  My coworkers were shocked that I actually decorated my desk for Christmas.  The office is very minimally decorated (especially compared to other offices at work).  Here's a picture from the pitiful (yet festive) decorations.

The Forgotten Carols:  The Forgotten Carols book and CD by Michael McLean played an important part of my personal Christmas traditions while I was away from home.  I loved seeing the play with Mom.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert:  This year the guests for the Christmas concert were Nathan Gunn and Jane Seymour.  Ever since Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, I have loved Jane Seymour!  I think she is the best!  When I found out she was the special guest for the MoTab Concert, I submitted my request for tickets.  Of course, I was turned away with millions of other people.  Didn't they understand I had been gone for six years and I wanted to see the concert?!  Obviously not!  My friend Michael's roommates are in the MoTab so I kept telling him I wanted to go and he should get me tickets from his roommates.  Of course, that didn't happen either.  I had pretty much written off attending the concert and seeing my Jane Seymour and, therefore, having my holidays be incomplete...until 4 PM on the day of the dress rehearsal.  My friend Michael actually came through for me with the MoTab Christmas Concert.  He said his date bailed on him so he was wondering if I wanted to go with him.  I said, "Of course!"  Traffic was a nightmare; parking was just as bad.  BUT we sat down in our seats just as the lights dimmed and the concert began!  Perfect timing!  The concert was everything I had hoped it would be.  Jane was amazing!  I had the BEST time!  Thank you Michael's date for being such a flake!  Here's a picture of us in front of the Salt Lake Temple after the concert.

A Christmas Carol:  Every year the Hale Centre Theatre performs A Christmas Carol during the holidays.  My parents have told me how wonderful the show is but it has always closed before I returned from Nashville.  My friend Chelsea and I were able to see the performance on a cold, snowy night.  It was magical!  I enjoyed having people perform for me this Christmas instead of me performing for others.

Mannheim Steamroller Christmas Concert:  Mom and I got tickets to the Mannheim Steamroller Christmas Concert the day before Christmas Eve.  I loved it!  I had never been to a Mannheim Steamroller concert before.  It was great!

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day:  These days were spent with my parents.  Unfortunately, my brother Chris and Allen weren't able to come to Utah for the holidays.  (They both had to work right after Christmas.)  My parents and I continued the traditions that began decades before.  

Christmas Eve:  We decorated sugar cookies, ate a nice steak dinner, drove around and saw Christmas lights, read the story of Christ's birth from the scriptures, and hung our stockings with care.

Christmas Day:  We saw what Santa brought us.  Yes, even in a home of three adults, Santa did visit us.  Since Christmas was on Sunday, we attended church.  Then we spent the rest of the day with family in Cache Valley.  It was fun to visit with cousins I hadn't seen in a few years.  It was a fun but LONG day!

Day After Christmas:  Since Christmas Day was spent mostly in Cache Valley, my parents and I opened our Christmas presents the day after Christmas.  We like to spread out the holidays as much as possible.

The Week Between Christmas and New Years:  One of the benefits of my job is having the week between Christmas and New Years off.  I enjoyed every day of it!  I spent my days getting together with friends, getting my annual haircut, etc.

Annual Haircut:  My annual haircut was nothing dramatic.  Just trim off the split ends, etc.  I wanted bangs but after consulting with my hair stylist decided not to.  Here's a picture of the new hair cut.  (I know, it looks just like it did before, just curlier.)

Olympic Oval:  Since I didn't go to Nashville this year, I got together with my friend Mindy and her family (from Nashville) at the Olympic Oval a few days after Christmas.  I didn't skate because I didn't want to show them up with my Michelle Kwan moves, but I had a great time watching them.  :)  Here's a picture of the crew that went to the Oval.

Temple Square:  Mom and I went downtown to see the lights at Temple Square.


Savior of the World:  Mom and I saw the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' production of the musical Savior of the World.  I loved it!  It was a nice reminder of the real reason for the season, Jesus Christ.

The Nutcracker:  Mom and I also saw the Nutty Nutcracker.  The Nutty Nutcracker is a themed version of the Nutcracker that Ballet West does for their last two performances.  Each year the theme is different, and this year it was a sports theme.  The costumes, some of the choreography, and special guests all were aligned with the sports theme.  It was very funny, but I still (kind of) got the story of the Nutcracker.  I really enjoyed it!  The Nutcracker reminded me of my childhood because Mom and I would go every year as part of our Christmas traditions.

New Year's Eve:  I'm not a huge party-goer on New Year's Eve.  I like to spend the evening at home not really doing much.  This year I brought the new year in with my friend Mark.  We had fun watching a movie and flipping TV channels until midnight.  Nothing too exciting!

Here's to 2012 with all its possibilities!