Sunday, April 22, 2012


Just a point of interest to my loyal readers--all four of you: Please note that I have added a subscription button to make it easier for you to keep up with The Green Room. My vice president of IT, Director J., helped me figure out how to add this functionality, and this blog thanks her.

I hope you will promptly sign up, and that you will ask all your friends to sign up--that is, if they are not overly sensitive about bodily functions and the occasional profanity. 

Before you know it, we will rule the world.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

M. Peevie: Reflections on Social and Economic Policy

The conversation started with a discussion of Mitt Romney and his piles and piles of money. 
"Mitt Romney claims he's not even part of the one percent," C. Peevie said.

"What?! No way," I said. "Cite your source." That's a favorite riposte in our household.

"Rolling Stone," he said. 

I raised one eyebrow and looked over to Mr. Peevie for a ruling. "I'd need to see the article for myself," he said.

"What's the one percent?" M. Peevie asked.

"It's the people who have buckets of money, M. Peevie," C. Peevie explained. "The rest of us are the 99 percent." 

"M. Peevie," I added, "There are many people who don't have enough money to even buy what they need. Some people have to choose between paying their rent and buying food, or between paying the bill to heat their house and buying the medicine they need."

"But why do some people have so much money, and other people don't?" asked the budding socialist.

"Some people are really good at making money," I said. "But how do they do it?" she asked. She was like a machine gun, spitting out questions without taking the time to reload.

"Well, maybe they start a business..."

"But how do they start a business if they don't have any money?" she interrupted.

"The bank will lend them money if they don't have enough to start their business, and if they have a good business plan," we told her, all of chiming in with totally theoretically observations about the process of starting a business. And then we got back to the solutions for helping the poor.

"Some people believe that the best way to help people who are poor is to ask businesses and people with more money to pay a little more in taxes so we can use that money to set up programs to help them, and to create jobs," I told her. "And other people think that the best way to help poor people is to help the people who run businesses, because businesses make jobs. The more jobs there are, the fewer poor people." Or so they say, I didn't add.

"That's called 'trickle down,' C. Peevie interjected. "And it doesn't work."

"I think they both sound like good ideas," said the 11-year-old sage. "Why can't we do both?"

I looked at Mr. Peevie and he looked at me. "She'd make a good president," I said.

"I do not want to be president," she said. "Too much responsibility, and too much sitting behind a big desk and signing papers all day long."

These kinds of conversations make me anticipate with wonder how this girl will one day change the world.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Crying in the Night

The other night I heard crying coming from M. Peevie's bedroom. Alarmed, I raced down the hall and pushed her door open. She was curled up on her giant beanbag chair, holding her book (Inkspell, by Cornelia Funke), sobbing into her sleeve.

"M. Peevie!" I said, "What is the matter? Did you hurt yourself?"

"No-ooo," she cried. She held up her book, marking her page with her pointer finger. "One of my favorite characters died!"

Phew. I was relieved, and also a tiny bit proud that my most ambitious reader was engaged with a book that had the power to move her that much. It justified my hard-line stance against crappy books written by Disney interns woodenly describing the plot of a kids movie, and insisting that we would only read books that were worth reading.

Later that night, when the kids were supposed to be asleep, I heard more weeping. Again I pushed open her door, and found M. Peevie in bed, reading by the hallway light and sobbing her heart out.

"M. Peevie!" I said, "What happened? Did another character die?"

"Yes!" she wailed, "And this time it was my actual favorite character, who gave up his own life so that the other character that died could come back to life! Waaaah!" She sobbed and hiccupped and sobbed some more.

"Wow," I said. "Very Jesusy. I'm sorry you're sad. Do you want to come and sleep in my bed for awhile until you feel better?"

She inhaled deeply, and exhaled. "No," she said, with a smallish hiccup. "I think I can calm myself down and stop crying."

So I gave her a little pat, and went to bed, and thought about how mysterious and wonderful she is, and how grateful I am for her, and for good books.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Accidental Felon

I'm thinking about changing the name of my blog to The Accidental Felon. I keep breaking the law, sort of accidentally, and just barely missing being sent to the Big House.

You might remember that I blogged about my experiences on jury duty a couple of years ago. Well, apparently, that was a Gigantic Potentially Felonious Mistake (GPFM). Even though I did not give away any details about the case, and did not consult any outside sources, once the case was over, the defense used my blog as one of their reasons for appeal. They wanted to interview the jurors to see if my blogging had in any way tainted them. The judge said no. They appealed, and the appeals court said no.

I got a call from a reporter at the Chicago Tribune wanting to talk to me about the case and my blog. I said, sure, dude, just call me back over my lunch hour. Meanwhile, being completely ignorant about what had been happening on the case, I started googling it.

Holy friggin' crap. I discovered my name and the name of my blog and quotes from my blog in the appeals court documents. They used words like "juror misconduct" and "tainted" and "contempt." I immediately called a friend of mine who is a lawyer, and said, Perry Mason, I think I might be in trouble. I explained the sitch to him, and he said, "Do not talk to any reporters. Do not talk about the case. Do not mention my name. Just shut up." He also told me that, had the judge found out about the blogging during the case, he could have cited me for contempt and tossed me in the clink for six months without a trial. "You put your fellow jurors at risk," he said ominously.


The story appeared in the Trib that weekend. "E. Peevie, freelance writer and mother of three, ..." it read--only it was my real name, thank you very much.

A couple of weeks later, I got a direct message on Twitter from Channel Five asking me to call or email Phil Rogers. I ignored it. The next day, they DMed me again, saying that Phil wanted to talk to me about the Metra case. I ignored it. Perry Mason would have been proud.

But then I got a phone call on my office phone from...wait for it...Phil Rogers. "E. Peevie," he said in a friendly voice, "This is Phil Rogers from Channel Five News. I've been trying to reach you."

"Um, yeah, Phil, I know who you are. I can't talk to you."

"Well," he said, "I'm doing a story on the Metra case, and I'm going to be mentioning your name and talking about your blog, and I wanted to give you a chance to respond."

"Thank you," I said. "You've given me a chance to respond, and I have declined it. I can't talk to you."

"But E. Peevie," he said, "We both went to Oklahoma State! Isn't that worth something? I just want to ask you a few questions." He had done his homework.

"Yeah," I said, "I knew that. But I still can't talk to you."

He asked me a couple more questions which I declined to answer, and finally I steeled myself to do the right thing. "I don't like to be rude, Phil," I said, "But I am going to have to hang up on you now." And I did. Perry Mason reminded me later that I should have just said "No comment" and hung up.

That night, on the five o'clock news, there was my giant face on the small blue screen. They had taken my photo from my Twitter account--which BTW is not a lovely photo AT ALL--and attached it to the story. And they showed still shots of my blog, and highlighted key portions where I had written about the trial. My friend Phil Rogers used phrases like "in defiance of a judge's admonitions not to discuss the case."

Now that the Supremes have finished exonerating me, I am finally able to say that there was no intentional defiance or contempt. I thought I was being very careful to obey the judge's instructions--I was not discussing the case, just writing in general terms. Phil Rogers inaccurately said that I discussed specific testimony--but I only discussed the effect of the testimony on the witness, and did not quote specific testimony on the blog.

I am a story-teller, and I told a story. Yes, it's true that we occasionally lapsed into very brief discussions of the case while we were in the jury room--but every time, one of us would remind the group that we were not supposed to be doing it, and we stopped. I am confident that this happens in every single trial--and most importantly, my blog described it, but did not cause it.

And guess what? Sometime after the verdict against Metra was reached, the instructions that judges give to jurors were revised to include specific references to social media. That tells me that they are admitting that their instructions were previously inadequate. (My friend Officer Friendly likes to call this The Peevie Rule. I am not amused.)

I guess the state won't be calling me to jury duty again any time soon. Rats.