Happy Birthday, Sweet Six Three. Or, Remember To Be Grateful.

“They” say getting old ain’t for the faint of heart. “They” are correct.

I’ve been noticing things about my physical self lately. Muscle tone is lacking. Skin is getting crepey at various appendages. My hair thinned out long ago and my beard is almost completely white.  

I don’t have a problem with the last two things and the muscle tone can be fixed by me getting off my ass and practicing yoga and other forms of moving ones body. 

The crepey skin is kind of a genetic thing and since I didn’t start to moisturize when I was in my 20’s, I guess I’ll just use lots of sunscreen. 

What’s bugging me now are a couple of things:  the trip home from my travels to Belize caused a common condition (though not to me) in my ankles when we got home-edema and resulting raised red spots on my ankles, shins and calves. We were on two separate flights for about seven hours plus a two hour drive from Los Angeles to Palm Desert. The swelling went down two days later and the spots in about two weeks. Never happened to me so I was worried. And pissed. Feeling old.

Next, I discovered bursitis a week or so ago on my left elbow. A swollen area also known as Popeye Arm. Fuck. Now I’m really a cartoon. What next I muttered to myself.. The bursis isn’t painful, just a sign that I either whacked it at some time, or it just decided to pop up. “...a common occurrence in older males...” The only time I remember hitting it was easily two months ago. Why it didn’t show up then is unknown. Again, never happened to me so I was worried, pissed, and feeling old. My next birthday on the horizon didn’t help.

Fast forward to Friday, March 9th. Birthday Eve. I’m sitting on a jury panel for a criminal trial. Based on past experience of actually being on a jury once and sitting in the jury box but ultimately being “thanked and excused”, I figured, hoped actually, I’d be sent packing. The jury I had served on back in the 80’s was a similar case and we’d been hung. The latter was a violation of a restraining order based upon child custody. Since I’d had a custody modification made within the time period asked on the questionnaire, I was cut loose. Yay! Jury service done! 

I also have a life-long friend in law enforcement. He’s a former CHP Commisioner and a current Chief of Police on the east coast. I hoped dropping his name might set me free this time. What I didn’t have in my favor for not serving  were, a.) no economic hardship and b.) no medical issue. I’m retired, so I have all the time in the world and despite my whining above, no real health issues keeping me from doing my civic duty. I really had no interest in sitting through this trial. The crime had been committed nearly 4 years before (based upon an article published in the paper that morning), and despite our system of ‘innocent until proven guilty’, I’d kinda made my mind up about the defendant’s guilt. This decision was fleshed out a little later when we found out how many witnesses would be testifying regarding the arrest portion of the case. I know, not very open minded of me, but it’s how I felt.

When the random picking of names began to fill the jury box, I was conflicted. Part of me wished to be called right away,  figuring I’d be cut, and my service would be done. The other part hoping I’d remain anonymous. The first round was called and I was still in the gallery. That meant the judge would hear everyone’s story, the two attorneys would question them and then decide who to cut.

What I had forgotten from my earlier times on a jury panel, were the shear number of people touched by crime. Some really violent, heinous crimes. For some individuals, multiple occurrences of murder, robbery, beatings, and sexual assault either to themselves or immediate family members. And some were either law enforcement themselves or had multiple family members who were. Others had serious, life threatening illnesses. My whiny-ass complaints held no water in comparison. 

The day wore on. After our return from lunch, the process of elimination began by the prosecution and defense attorneys adjourning to judges chambers. It turned out they discussed which jurors to eliminate during their chat. This really sped up the selection process. Four people from the box were eliminated, replaced by a couple of alternates. Then came time for more names picked at random. I figured my time was up. Nope. I still had not been picked.  Then it was time for a break. At 3:00 p.m., I figured they’d be doing more questioning and eliminating more people. By my seasoned eye,  the time of day, and the pattern of questioning by the attorneys, there were at least two more in the jury box and three more in the alternates to be eliminated. We’d all be coming back on Monday for more of the same. Damn.

The attorneys and judge did the same thing as before, came back and “thanked and excused” five more prospective jurors. Those of us remaining on the panel held our collective breaths. But not for long. The shuffle in the jury box and slide into positions from the alternates had satisfied the legal team. The jury was sworn in and we were free to go. An audible sigh of relief came out of us.  We all filed out of the courtroom, down the stairs and outside. The quiet, adult version of kids running, screaming out of school at the beginning of vacation.

So what the hell is this post about? 

Its about gratitude. Realizing that my health is good, minor complaints notwithstanding. I live in a beautiful location, close to other beautiful places and have all that I need to do more than just survive. My time is my own. I have family and friends who love me. What more is there? 

Absolutely nothing.