A fresh, hot cup of coffee. Another smoldering cone of patchouli incense filling my study with a scent that awakens memories of years ago. On my desk, evidence of procrastination abounds—so many little things left to tidy up, paperwork obligations undone, and paper that should have been filed or discarded days ago…testament to my innocuous indolence. It is early yet, not yet a quarter to five, but the day around me feels ready to flow forward, perfectly attuned to my own readiness to assert dominion over my tiny kingdom.

So begins another Saturday morning. Nothing special, but for some reason I find the ordinary disorder of this very early part of today almost too good to be real. I am an incredibly fortunate man to be who and where I am. I am beyond lucky, having people in my life who make this ordinary disorder, and everything surrounding it, so stunningly beautiful. I am filled with gratitude for everything in my life, even the unpleasant challenges. Without them, the happier components of my experience might not be so obviously and emphatically good. I wish I could capture this feeling of euphoria and distribute it to everyone I encounter and everywhere that needs to feel peace and appreciation—fill the atmosphere in Russia and Iraq and the entirety of Asia and Africa with it. Ach! My goals are too lofty. Perhaps I should start with other rooms in this very house and slowly move outward from there.

It’s too bad the pendulum of such a mood can swing so abruptly and forcefully to the other end of its arc.  There must be some acceptable way of preventing that dramatic swing from euphoria to despair.


Okay. I’m too lazy to continue writing. So I’ll copy and paste the majority of a very long post (from one of my abandoned blogs) from ten years ago in which I described in excruciating detail my experience being supoenaed to testify at a trial in Los Angeles. It’s not really THAT boring, so please read on, if you have the time and the inclination:

July 18, 2010

I spent seven days, last Wednesday and Thursday, trying to testify at a trial in Los Angeles. I had received a subpoena that commanded me to be in Los Angeles for a week, beginning July 13, so I dutifully made my arrangements to go.

The FBI agent who was my contact told me not to worry, I wouldn’t really need to be there for a week. In fact, he said, I would only need to get there one afternoon and leave the next, after dutifully testifying in the case against someone the U.S. Attorney said had scammed many people out of many thousands of dollars. I believed the U.S. Attorney. Still do.

ANYWAY, I flew last Wednesday morning on a flight that got me to L.A. at about 12:30 pm local time. After dashing to catch the SuperShuttle, I sat inside said SuperShuttle for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes while the driver wandered aimlessly around LAX looking for marks. A mere hour and a half after we left the airport, after the driver hurriedly dropped off half the population of L.A. who was riding with me, I was the last rider to be dropped at my hotel.

IN THE MEANTIME, my office sent me an urgent email: the U.S. Postal Inspector who was working with my FBI agent friend had called to say go to my hotel and stay there and await further instructions. So, after I checked in to the hotel, I went to my room and sat patiently. Oh, I didn’t mention that the flight from Dallas to L.A. was supposed to have “food for purchase.” I was actually planning to have my lunch on board that plane. But apparently someone forgot to stock the plane with week-old dry bread and hard, hard, actually brittle salami; there was no food to be had.

Well, I couldn’t very well go to the hotel restaurant to eat because I was expecting a phone call from the FBI agent or the U.S. Postal Inspector or the U.S. Attorney or someone of like official capacity. And I couldn’t very well order room service because I might be called away before it was delivered or, worse yet, have to leave a perfectly good room service tray untouched in my room. So, I decided to wait.

You see, I had arranged to meet a fellow blogger and her husband for dinner. So I could wait to eat until dinner. Over the years, I had stored enough energy around my waist, neck, and thighs to sustain me until dinner, I reasoned. So I would wait.

Incidentally, all I knew about my fellow blogger was what I had read and seen online. The fact that she and her husband could have been, for all I knew, L.A.’s most fashionable serial-killer couple, did not phase me. I wanted to meet KathyR and the man she claimed to be her husband.

But I digress. Back to the story at hand. I waited. I continued to wait. And I waited more. No calls from the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspector, the U.S. Attorney, or anyone else. It was getting late. I was getting worried that I still would be waiting to hear from the Feds after KathyR arrived to meet me at my hotel. So I called and left her a message explaining the situation and suggesting that, if she would rather not risk being unable to have dinner even after the drive to downtown L.A., that would be fine. (This call of mine was NOT my way of backing out of the date due to my fear of becoming the latest victim of L.A.’s most fashionable serial-killer couple.). She called back to say she and her husband were already on their way and that, if things didn’t work out that I could go to dinner, she and that man would just consider it “date night.” I felt better.

Then, I waited some more. Just before KathyR was to arrive, the phone rang. It was the FBI agent. He apologized profusely that he had been unable to call me earlier; he had been in court, where, I learned, communication of any kind is forbidden. They still needed to talk to me. Now, please. I explained I had potential murderers, possibly cannibals friends waiting to have join me for dinner and that I would need to meet them downstairs to let them know I needed to visit with the Feds. He begrudgingly agreed to let me go downstairs to meet my doom friends; he would call me back in five minutes.

I proceeded to the hotel bar, where I instantly recognized KathyR. She was sitting with a man I assumed to be her husband. I explained what had just happened and that I was afraid I could not join them for dinner. They bought me a Grey Goose martini and we chatted for awhile, then FBI guy called and I agreed to leave the hotel at 7:00 pm to go visit him at the courthouse. I found KathyR and her husband, a non-blogger who seemed, nonetheless, to be a decent human being, to be interesting people and was annoyed that I could not spend more time with them. However, during our brief chat, she and her husband (I’ll call him Allen) agreed to visit me in Dallas, where I would be required to take them to the world’s most expensive steakhouse, otherwise known as Pappas Brothers Steakhouse. [My secret plan, though, is to lure them to Dallas, then to take them to a seedy dive or two to demonstrate that “Hidden Kitchens” offers good things to those who risk life and limb.

I have digressed again and again and again. Back to the plot. I loped off to the courthouse, where I was met (after a brief delay) by a Postal Inspector and led up to the U.S. Attorney’s office. I waited still more and, finally, was led into an “interview room” to be interrogated. The FBI agent was still a bit miffed at me, I think, because I had not come right over when he called. I soon learned why, though; he lives a two-hour drive from the courthouse and had been working 7 am to 9 or 10 pm for more than a week. ANYWAY, he managed to get out of having to participate in the interrogation, which was undertaken, instead, by an Assistant U.S. Attorney, shadowed by the Postal Inspector. They informed me that they would call me between 9 and 9:30 the next day to tell me when to go to the courthouse. Finally, I left the office for my hotel around 9:00 pm. I then had a hamburger and two more Grey Goose martinis and went to bed.

The next morning, after a leisurely breakfast of miso soup, nori, smoked salmon with capers, and eggs benedict with bacon on the side (I freely admit to being a glutton), I waited in my room for the call. It came as promised and I was told to go to the witness room at the courthouse at 11:00 am. I got there early and waited. And waited. And I waited some more. At 12:15 or so, the witnesses (there were five of us there) were told to go have lunch and return at 1:30. We did. Finally, witnesses started being called. Four of them were called by 2:45 pm. About 3:00 pm, I began to start worrying whether I would make my 6:00 pm flight.

But not to worry! The Assistant U.S. Attorney and her entourage came in just at 3:00 pm, She explained that things were going well, better than she expected. So, my testimony would not be needed! Oh, joy, I thought! She explained, further, that the last witness had addressed most of the issues I was expected to cover and that, had I been put on the stand, the defense counsel probably would have attacked my credibility, accusing me of bias, etc., etc. (this due to the nature of the organization I was representing).

SO, I went to the 12th floor as directed to get my reimbursement vouchers, whereupon I was sent to the 15th floor, where I was made to fill out forms. I asked about the quickest way to the airport. I was advised to take the D-Dash bus to Union Station, where I would then catch the Fly-Away Shuttle to LAX. I wish I had known about that the day before. I spent $7.25 to get to the airport in about half the time and at a quarter the price it took the day before to get from LAX to the hotel.

It goes on. But you get the drift.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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