Thursday, September 19, 2013

preliminary hearing

This afternoon, I attended the preliminary hearing in the matter of the teenage driver who caused Adam's accident. The prosecutor is charging her with "operating a motor vehicle without a license causing death," which, if she were an adult, would be a felony with a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. Because she is a juvenile, the disposition that the juvenile court assigns to her will be some combination of home detention, probation, and restitution.

Today, the charges were read and explained, and she had the opportunity to enter a plea of responsible or not responsible. The teenager's mother does not speak English (parents participate in juvenile court) and the friend she brought to interpret could not handle the legal terminology, so her appointed attorney entered a plea of not responsible. However, the assistant prosecutor who is handling the case does not expect it to go to trial.

The next step is for the court to find a qualified translator. It's frustrating that they had not done so for this hearing, but the family may not have formally notified the court of this need. Then, the next hearing will be scheduled, and the victims' advocate will notify me.

I'm doing okay. Really. I'm glad that this process finally seems to be moving forward. I'm glad to have seen the teenager and her mother, who look like nice people, honestly.

Juvenile court is not the same as adult criminal court, so much of the terminology is different, and this process will not look like what we might be familiar with from personal experience or popular culture. These are all the details I can share right now. I'll keep you posted as I know more.

Please, keep praying for my family, for the third driver and her family, and for the teenager and her family.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


When I settled in to fairy tales as the main focus of my dissertation, Jeff said, "Well, if you're going to do fairy tales, you have to read German." I rolled my eyes and grudgingly signed up for his Reading German for Graduate Research course.

It turned out to be a great class!

Jeff is an engaging instructor, and German has so many cool words. The title of this post is one of the best. The root 'zwei' is the two word, and a literal translation might be  entwoed. It means something like having doubt, being between two things. Since meeting this word, I've felt that it is an amazing label for my life, because I so often have the sense of standing at a place where two roads diverge.

The standard advice for the bereaved is to refrain from making any big decisions for at least a year, but this was slated to be a year of big decisions anyway. So, as I work on my dissertation and prepare for the academic job market, I've been thinking about the sort of place I would perhaps like to live. I have been happy in large cities, in small towns, and in the countryside, but I have also found each of these wanting.

My travel and return this past week have brought these thoughts to the fore again. Last Wednesday, I walked eight-tenths of a mile to the metro, took the train from Arlington to the heart of the District and then walked eight blocks to a café to meet a friend. It was wonderful to be a pedestrian again. Using your own two feet as a means of transportation is empowering, and this is much more viable in Washington than in Jones. Over our not-coffee, Mark and I had a conversation that touched on my work and his, our mutual friends, the state of the universe, and the finer points of public transportation. The hour in the air-conditioned café was just enough to cool me off from the walk to get there, and I left the café ready for my next adventure.

That day, my feet, in coordination with the DC transit system, took me to meet three different friends, to shops and restaurants, and to one of my favorite places on earth.
It was both exhilarating and exhausting.

By Friday, I was back at Rambling Farmhouse, where distances are too great for walking, and public transportation is non-existent. Having dropped Sofia off at school, I stopped at the abbey for terce and then drove to Bluebird Farm, where I spent the morning slinging shit with Rachel. Ass deep in the barnyard manure pile, I looked at my dirty hands, encrusted jeans, and borrowed rubber boots and saw the chasm between them and Wednesday's linen slacks and leather loafers.

Yet, at the same time, Friday morning had a lot in common with Wednesday morning: the company was excellent, the conversation was delightful, and I was having fun. Just as being a pedestrian is empowering (even when it is exhausting)  through the freedom of movement it offers, I find farm and garden work to be empowering (even when it is disgusting) because it offers an intimate connection to the food that sustains me.

And Friday's scenic drive from Bluebird Farm to White Yarrow took me past another of my happy sights: a soybean field in fall color.
I love the combination of green, brown, and gold against the blue and white of the sky.
This year has not been stellar for fall soybean color, but you get the idea here. :-)
After all this, I'm really no less zweifelt about the sort of place I'd like to find work. I do, however, know that what I crave are good friends, meaningful physical activity, and inspiring spaces.

Friday, September 6, 2013

first days back

The girls were so excited to go back to school this week. "I can't wait for school to start!" Anna especially had been bouncing off the walls the entire week before in anticipation. "Mama, did we buy everything on the list? Oh, no! I need pecil-top erasers!"

They are not attending the same school as they had been for the last three years. Since we're back at Rambling Farmhouse, they are back in the district where they attended kindergarten (both of them) and first grade (Anna). Although they hadn't been here for four years, each of them has found a couple of kids whom they knew before, and the space is comfortingly familiar. I've told the teachers and administrators about Adam's death but asked them not to share this information with the other students and parents, so for the first time in two months, the girls can feel like just normal kids.

As their excitement built, so did my trepidation. I had promised myself that when the kids went back to school, I would get back to work on my research, and my best frolleague Erin had agreed to start checking in with me after Labor Day. In the last week of August, I tidied my physical and virtual desktops, excavated pertinent books from boxes, and made lists of things to do. I felt ready, but at the same time intimidated by my own work.

On Tuesday when I sat in front of the computer, each step toward getting started needed to be followed by a break: Locate file. Knit two rows. Open file. Hang the laundry on the line outside. Read first page. Make more tea. Wednesday was better. I made actual progress on a project with an upcoming deadline, made some notes about what to do next, and set it on the back burner to percolate. Thursday started off well. I was reading for a different project, and I was seeing connections between this reading and other sources I've looked at. It felt good, like my brain was starting to work again.

After lunch, though, I had my e-mail open because I was working on correspondence and up popped an e-mail from the county prosecutor's office asking to meet with me.* My momentum ground to a halt as a solid ball of tension formed behind my sternum. I am not doing as well as I thought, I thought. Scheduling the meeting took about fifteen minutes of e-mailing with the secretary and a friend who will go with me.

I closed up the book I had been reading and walked away from the desk, knowing that I would not accomplish any more research that day. With another cup of tea and my knitting, I retreated to the armchair hoping to calm down. Eventually I did, and I was able to accomplish some of the house things on my list for this week, so the afternoon was not a total loss. And in the evening, I made brownies.

While I recognize that my emotional and physical response to the prosecutor's message yesterday was reasonable, it was far from convenient, and it came close to ruining my day. The other people in this complex situation have incredible power to ambush me and demand my attention. And that is so very frustrating.

I'd been thinking about this post all week, but the draft in my head was quite different from this. This week has been a lesson in living the wilderness between end and beginning.

*They want to discuss the charges they plan to file against the teenage driver in Adam's case. I'm to write down my questions and bring them. That's all I know for now, so please don't ask me anything. I'll tell you more when I can.