Wednesday, September 28, 2011


I get migraines. Classic, one-sided, blinding, migraines.

I was first diagnosed with them at the ripe old age of 4.

I remember it. I was sitting on the examination table and the doctor asked me how I was and I said "What's this hurt behind my eye?"

Geez, I was 4!!!! Couldn't God have waited until I at least could blame it on hormones or something like that?? What did I do to deserve migraines at that age???

So I have had them for over 50 years. I have been to neurologists by the dozen. Pain clinics. Acupuncturists. Massage therapist. Chiropractors. Migraine specialists. Allergists. You name it, I have been there.

So I warn every judge I am in front of that I get them, that I don't know when they will hit but when I say I gotta go, I mean I gotta go now. Otherwise I end up walking into walls that I can't see and/or bursting into tears and/or (this is the good one) having the symptomology of a stroke!

Great fun.

But, in general, people think that migraines are just a headache and you will be just fine if you take an aspirin or ibuprofen or some such shit.

I have patiently explained to judges (and others) that my migraines are not headaches. They are a neurological event. That my brain simply shorts out. I explain that I get auras. That my vision splits so that I can't see what is directly in front of me but only that which is in my peripheral vision. And that is blurred. I loose feeling on the skin of my hand (right only) that progresses up my arm, into my neck and then into my jaw and my tongue.

I explain that I am exhausted after the neurological event and it prevents me from working with any level of competence.

Oh, did I forget to mention that I mix up word order in sentences when I speak?

Cuz that is what I did in an opening argument where the judge didn't believe I had migraines.

That was the day I ended up in the hospital because even my doctor was afraid I had stroked.

I hadn't. There is never a bleed. Although every time I get one I am terrified that this time it is a bleed.

That judge has retired. I ran into him the other day. He asked if I had been cured.

So if you don't know about migraines and someone you know tells you they have them, please educate yourself.

It is NOT just a headache. In fact, a lot of times no headache occurs. Just the auras, the blindness and the fear.

Please don't take someone saying they have a migraine lightly. It can really disrupt your day and your life.

If you don't mind, I am going to bed. I woke up with a migraine this morning and I am not feeling much better right now.

At least I know that this one was not a bleed. I didn't go numb this time.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Singing Again

I really had forgotten how wonderful it is to sing in a place made for singing.

Vocal Arts did a concert today in the San Miguel Mission in San Miguel. San Miguel is a very small town north of Paso Robles (California). The town and the mission began in the 1700's. We were asked to sing at their Fiesta Days and we jumped at the chance.

The remarkable thing is that the Mission was nearly lost in the Paso Robles earthquake. Three hundred years of history almost went to the ground.

But it didn't. And the community began saving money and raising money for the restoration and retrofitting of the old adobe buildings. And this year the Mission opened again. The frescos inside are original and are now being meticulously cleaned to show their true color and beauty.

But even without that, seeing them on the walls and realizing that someone, 300 years ago, placed paint on the wall that I was looking at was astounding.

It is hard to imagine, but the steps to the alter are the original wood. The beams are 300 years old. The frescos and the alter icons are the same.

I think it was the best we have ever sung Anton Bruckner's "Ave Maria" It was magical.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Just a Normal Day

The blog has been a bit neglected. I have been working and just didn't have the will (or the thoughts) to put down on virtual paper.

But today is Saturday and I am taking the day off. Not that it really changes things.

You see, I had two cases set to go to trial (like with a jury and all the trimmings) on this coming Monday. That means that a readiness hearing is held the week before to make sure that all is well and the case will go to trial as scheduled. The court needs to know how to schedule and jury services needs to know how many people to call. The court reporter has to be available and bailiffs have to be there to cover the in custody defendant.

The "hearing" is usually in chambers with the judge and goes something like this:

Judge: "Is everyone ready? Good, let's confirm this on the record"

Everyone else: "Thank you, your Honor."

Except that mine never go that way. There is usually some glitch. A witness is unavailable. There aren't enough jurors in the pool. Another trial has priority. Something.

But usually it is worked out and the trial goes forward.


This week was not even close to usual.

Two trials. I have been preparing for both. That requires my brain to be actively thinking about the case almost all the time.

Doing dishes. I am thinking about it. Going over possible scenarios and possible outcomes for witnesses, rulings, etc.

My brain doesn't stop.

And that means little sleep.

And that means I am GRUMPY!

So when I get 1000 pages of NEW discovery (that police reports, expert reports, forensic testing, etc.) ten days before trial (on a case that is 2 years old!) , I go beserk.


I file papers with the court and I am not kind.

So the readiness hearing goes something like this:

Judge: I have read the motion filed by defense and I must say I am not happy. I have no choice but to grant the motion to continue. I will put my displeasure on the record."

Out we go to the courtroom where the judge lambasts the prosecution and puts off the trial for 3 months.

I get to do this all over again. Great......

Then, in the next courtroom on the same day. The other case that has been occupying my brain is dismissed for lack of evidence.

Not that I am upset about a dismissal. I just like to go to trial on cases the prosecution can't prove. I like winning.

But I am upset that I haven't slept well in weeks over cases that the prosecution KNEW weren't going.

Sometimes the chess game pisses me off.

Just a normal day......

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Sayin' Goodbye, Again

Judge passed last Friday.

Yesterday, I drove Hwy. 58 to Bakersfield to be at his Rosary and his funeral.

Why highway 58, you might ask. It is slower, windier, and, in summer, not very pretty.

But it has the buffalo.

The ones he told me about long ago.

I, of course, did not believe him. There are no buffalo in Santa Margarita or just outside of it. But I took the route back then.

I didn't see any buffalo.

I told him he was pulling my leg. Just like my brothers and the cherry tree. You see, my brothers told me that there was a cherry tree on the pitcher's mound in our backyard. There was no pitcher's mound and no cherry tree. But they made me feel real stupid as they insisted that there was a pitcher's mound and a cherry tree and I was just blind not to see it. It was a running joke on me from the age of 2 to about 5 when I finally figured out they were making fun of me.

But Judge insisted that there WERE buffalo and that I should keep using that route and I would eventually see them.

And I did. And I took pictures and sent them to him. Laughing the whole time. He just said, "I told you so".

He didn't tease me. He never put me down.

He was brother, father, confidant, friend and mentor.

So I took Highway 58 for him. And the buffalo were there.

So was the San Andreas fault.

That was another thing he told me I would not only see but drive right over.  And that is what I did.

And then I drove into the valley. I had called it Mordor once and he found that quite funny and very true. Nothing but oilwells and sage. For miles. With the summer heat to match.

All of these places reminded me of him. He told stories about all of them. And I will never hear them again.

He will not wear his black robe again.

So I sat through a Rosary. And I sat through a Mass. He was Catholic and the rituals were followed.

As for me, the ritual was covering the land that he loved to talk about. Remembering the things that we shared.

I said goodbye in his way and I said goodbye in my way.

Goodbye, Judge.