Monday, March 29, 2010

Jury Duty!

I am writing this blog post from the jury room at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in downtown Los Angeles. I am waiting with about 200 other people to see if I will be selected on to uphold the 6th Amendment.

The packed room includes a very diverse group of people: many cultures, several languages, businesspeople, students, retirees, “homemakers” (why is this term still relevant?) and even a familiar face: a fellow board member of LA’s BEST. It intrigues me that so people from such different walks of life have been mandated to gather at the same place on the same day.

Yet most people are bitching about being here.

Which I understand because I have been hearing from people all week about what I can do to get out of this “situation” – just don’t go, lie when they ask you questions, tell them you are racist. Really? Is that what society (or perhaps just my social circle?) has come to: being dishonest to dodge a process that was founded to ensure that each person is provided due process?! If we were in the same place, wouldn’t we want the best possible people listening to our case?

Now don’t get me wrong, I understand the inconvenience of serving jury duty. At this moment, I have several active events happening at work and my business partner is on maternity leave. But I hardly think that I am so important that a couple days out of the office will materially affect the course of my business. And, unlike others in the room, I will still pull a paycheck if I actually have to sit on an active case.

Having said that, I still have my fingers crossed that I will be released at the end of the day, thus fulfilling my responsibility for an entire year. Because although I know I would be an excellent juror and would find the process very interesting, I am really not that virtuous (or crazy) that I am hoping to be selected - it would be a nuisance to be out of the office for an extended period of time, and God forbid the BDI team be left to their own devices for too long in beautiful summertime weather!

But if I am selected to serve, I will suck it up, be honest and perform to the best of my ability; not only it is a basic tenet of a democratic society, but it is also an importance practice of the Golden Rule. And certainly if I were on trial, I would hope that everyone does the same for me. 

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I'd Rather Work than Date?

Since my last serious relationship three years ago – and a rough, quick heartbreak shortly after – I have truly been more interested in working and having a fun single life than I was in looking for a mate. I loosely dated here and there, but never anything too serious, and without expending too much effort.

And then, like biological clockwork, I recently realized that I was ready to be in a relationship again – perhaps settle down a bit and really invest some time with a significant other. And, in the most timely way possible with very little patience necessary, I met someone who was actually a great catch: smart, attractive, interesting, listened to NPR! And was thinking he was ready to settle down too. Man, I just love it when that happens!

So we went on a first date. And another and some more. And talked. And kissed. And it was fun and exciting and hopeful.

And now, a few weeks and a touch of an emotional investment later, he’s back with his ex. And that my friends, is dating! I totally forgot that’s how it goes.

What I have been more accustomed to in recent years are the rules of running a business. Make a to-do list; cross things off. Target new business prospects; fulfill their needs. Hire worthy employees; give them projects. Enter bills; invoice clients.

Of course in business, there is still some heartbreak and disillusionment, but it is much more measured and anticipated. Surely you cannot expect to land every client you pursue. Not all employees you hire will be superstars. There are times of financial uncertainty. Clearly there are good days and bad. But all in all, there are rules of engagement – and to me, it all makes sense and follows a generally predictable pattern.

So really, right now, I’d rather work than date. It’s easier - and there is a greater chance of success.

But there was a time, not long ago, when running my business was not so easy. It was unfamiliar and hard and forced me to learn new skills and new ways of doing things. I messed up and felt out of place and wasn’t always sure what I was doing. I cried and bitched and questioned my decisions.

Which kind of sounds like how I feel when I’m … dating.

So maybe finding a mate isn’t much unlike running a business after all (many self-help authors have often made this claim). Maybe it's more likely that I am just at a different stage of the dating game than I am in the sport of business. Not that there aren’t still bad days and tough losses; but at least now I understand where it’s coming from and recognize that it’s par for the course. And I have the knowledge that one day, it just clicked and I found my groove.

And I guess that is wherein the hope lies. As with building a company, there should be a day – hopefully in the not so distant future – when the rituals of dating will become easier and more familiar. That the bumps will become more tolerable and better navigated. That I will be as successful at it as I am in business.

Luckily, I’m a very fast learner.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Is Marriage Still Relevant?

Marriage has been on my mind in recent months. Not sure why since the news has been filled with reports of cheating politicians (and Tiger), voters refusing to extend the right to gays and lesbians, and a personal understanding of the affects of divorce.

And yet, the thoughts persist. Which is shocking news to me, as for most of my adult life I haven’t had much interest in joining the ranks of the blissfully bound.

Marriage is an institution that dates back to medieval times as a way to ensure the connection of well-to-do families. It also comes in handy for raising children – as two, bonded human adults can better care and provide for their offspring. And there was a time – not too long ago – where getting married was the epitome of success for young women in America.

More modern times have seen marriage provide tax benefits, a big party where friends and family buy you gifts you specifically request, and also, according to Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love and her most recent tome on marriage, Committed, “a giant sack of expectations” of your partner including, “best friend, romantic partner, someone who inspires you everyday, helps your career, co-parents with you, etc.”

So with all of these risks and expectations and outdated models of pair-bonding, why is it that all of a sudden the idea of marriage suddenly appeals to me? Perhaps that now, on the eve of my thirties, I am getting more settled, more interested in long-term planning and commitment. Maybe it represents a life that is more familiar to me as most of my friends are now married and having babies. Or maybe it’s a novelty that I have yet to experience.

As for whether or not marriage is still relevant … the answer to that varies by individual and context. For society? Perhaps. Married people tend to be happier, healthier and more successful in life that us singletons. But for me does it provide a “significant and demonstrable bearing on the matter at hand”? Not really.

I’m quite certain that I can have a committed relationship, good health and myriad of success without matrimony. But some days, depending on the outcome of a date, the tug of my biological clock and/or the frequency with which I hang out with my married friends, it feels to be more significant than others.

So while my mind is now open to the idea of nuptials, my heart knows that it isn’t a necessary course of action to define my relationship, prove my place in life or secure the course of my future. We’ll see what happens... have several steps to go before walking down the aisle: like finding a man who I could possibly tolerate spending “the rest of my life” with. And good luck with that!

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