It’s true. Fortunately, I’m tucked safely away at an IRS tax course in balmy Fargo, a good 65 miles south of frigid Grand Forks. So don’t any of you feel bad for me. But all kidding aside, I’m freezing. My dad used to say that you knew it was really cold when the snow squeaked, not crunched or squished, squeaked. Right now in North Dakota, dogs are howling continually in response to the high pitched squeaks made by all of us unfortunate enough to be walking around outside. As I was walking around downtown Fargo today I thought of a million brilliant ways to describe the cold so that it could truly be understood. Of course, now as I sit in my warm room at the Holiday Inn Express (Priority Club Platinum Elite Status here I come) I can’t think of any of them. My poor little Kia Spectra (aka the Rehder Red Racer) probably could though. Every time I hit a bump I feel like it’s so cold that something crucial is going to crack off. I’m being as kind to the old girl (do we think it’s a she?) as I possibly can. Before I eat my breakfast in the hotel lobby, I always start her up and let her idle for about 20 minutes. Then I make the 5 minute drive to the Federal Building/Post Office in downtown Fargo where I have my mind numbed by hours of income tax law. So I may be spending more on gas these days but if it prevents (I’m feverishly knocking on my desk hoping that it’s actually made out of wood) paying for major repairs necessitated by driving a 2003 Kia at a starting temp of -20, it’s well worth it.
Enough of my incessant whining about the cold. This could go on for months. I need to suck it up and honestly, we’ve been blessed that it started as late as it did. Also, I’ll be making my escape for a couple of weeks this winter at the beginning of January when I head down to Montgomery, AL for a trial advocacy course. Plus, I believe most of my loved ones are currently covered in giant mounts of snow which, oddly enough, completely missed North Dakota. So I’m now not only feverishly knocking on my desk but also counting my blessings with the same zeal. Oh yeah, and it doesn’t really matter how cold it gets because I have this:
Do people judge me when they see me wearing it? Absolutely. Do I knock things off shelves and pump into people without realizing it when I’m wearing it. Oh definitely. Do I lack all peripheral vision when wearing it with the hood up (which is the only way to really properly go about wearing it)? Of course. Is it also the best thing the Air Force has ever bestowed on me? It’s way up there on the list. For those of you I am lucky enough to see at Christmas time, plan on seeing it make an appearance, even if it’s not that cold.
Moving away from the weather and onto what, in the life a JAG and a lawyer in general, is a pretty big milestone. I finished my first fully litigated courts martial. It was originally set to be a members court (in the military jury = panel, jurors = members for future reference) but on the morning we were supposed to start, the accused (= defendant) decided that he would rather have his case heard by a military judge. I was honestly a little bummed because I still have never done a court or trial in front of a jury but it also really simplified the process and made what could have been a 5 or 6 day trial take only 3 days.
Overall it went really well. Although I spent more than one night at the office till 2300 (= 11pm) responding to last minute motions, it was all worth it. The accused was found guilty of many of the charges (there were several) and his sentence included almost two years of jail time, a bad conduct discharge (BCD) and a reduction in grade to the lowest possible enlisted rank. I got to do the opening statement, several directs and crosses, and the sentencing argument. I also was able to argue several of the motions I spent what seemed like days writing which is really rewarding, especially when you win most of them. One the judge decided not to rule because the defense withdrew it. The judge did a feedback session with us after the court was all done and the coolest thing was when he wouldn’t believe me that this was my first court. Thank you John Marshall trial advocacy program and Cook County 1st Municipal.
So I won’t go into any more detail here but thank you to everyone who didn’t give me a hard time for falling off the face of the earth for two weeks (if it was even noticed by anyone besides my cats). Looking forward to seeing everyone over the holidays really pulled me through. Oh, another thing that pulled me through was coming home everynight to my Christmas lights which, thanks to modern technology, come on every night at dusk and thanks to my mom and dad, are perfectly symetrical and the perfect balance between colored and white lights. Just in case you don’t believe me:
Those white blobs are twinkling stars that the picture really doesn’t fully capture and the bigger white blob in the window is my little tree. Is it wrong that Christmas lights are a necessary part of my life?
To bed I go, for tomorrow awaits temperatures dangerously below zero and learning how to calculate first time home buyer credits on a tax return. Both of those thing require a good nights sleep to tackle. Night!