Jury Duty

Daphne broke her finger, but still had to report.

An inside look at my day in court.

Luigi and Jessica played video games.
In an unexpected twist, the Curmudgeon got his jury duty letter yesterday. He’s due in court June 21st.

 

I thought I was the angriest person to show up for jury duty.

And then I ran into my neighbor Daphne, whose finger is in a plaster cast and looks like she’s perpetually flipping off the world.

She might have been perfectly fine fulfilling her civic duty with me and about 100 other citizens. But with that cast, she seemed to be summing up the feelings of some of us, who were just hoping we got released before 5 p.m.

Daphne admits her cast is off putting, noting the judge who came in to talk to us was staring at her throughout his speech.

Daphne smashed her finger with a hammer while trying to install an outdoor shower at her house. Though still in pain from the fracture and stitches, she said she had no choice but to report because she’s already postponed twice before.

So things could be worse. I could be in monumental physical pain like Daphne in addition to be bored out of my mind.

I’m not sure why jury duty is such an onerous task for some of us, but I think a lot of it has to do with feeling trapped. You’re out of your comfort zone and routine, thrown with strangers into into a large room resembling an airport waiting area.

It doesn’t help to learn that some people, including my friend John B, have never been called for jury duty. How does that happen?

No one is talking to each other, and you get the feeling court officials would tell you to stop if you tried. No one is particularly chatty anyway. The only sounds are creaking plastic seats and the whir of the heating system.

We just watched a video outlining jury duty and now everyone’s retuned to their phones and tablets. The highlight of the video was recognizing my Pickleball buddy Mark, who served on a jury and discussed his experience in the video.

I’ll have to remember to ask him about that the next time I see him. I wonder how many other people have asked him about it because he’s a bit of a celebrity. Imagine how many state residents watch this video every year.

The good news is that Mark is one of the most kind and gentle people I’ve ever met, so whomever got him as a juror lucked out. I’m not surprised he sat on a jury because he’s level headed (he’s a helicopter engineer), calm and fair.

That’s what you want in a juror and there are actually a lot of people in this room who look like they fit the bill. Most are middle aged and well dressed – men in pressed shirts with sweaters or vests with an occasional sports jacket thrown in. Most women are in skirts or nice pants and blouses.

For the record, I believe in our jury system and realize this is a small price to pay for living in a nation where you’re presumed innocent until proven guilty. I just wish there was a more efficient way to do it.

We had to get here at 8, and most trials don’t start until 10. There’s a lot of dead time. We’re wearing juror stickers and have our own elevator on the 9th floor, but we’re basically the property of the state for the day.

This is my second time at bat for jury duty. I avoided it for years by saying I was a stay-at-home mom, but finally reported about 3 years ago and was released after a few hours.

I was supposed to report on March 7th, but didn’t feel like it so I got an extension. April 30th seemed like such reprieve when I got the extension, though it’s been hanging over my head ever since.

I had trouble sleeping knowing I was due in court so early. I got out of bed at 4 a.m. and watched an episode of the Gilmore Girls on Netflix. When a pipe began making odd sounds in our bathroom, I thought about skipping court so I could call a plumber. We turned off the water instead.

A administrative judge came in and told us that we’re all being very patriotic, which made us all sit up a little straighter. He told us that we’re fulfilling an important role even if the case we might be called for gets settled at the 11th hour.

That’s an important point because most cases are settled out of court. I can’t tell you how many times I wrote stories about impending jury selection only to have settlements reached or plea bargains brokered at the last minute. It was always a little disappointing, because I loved covering trials.

I know I stand little to no chance of being picked for a jury. My husband is an attorney and active in the New Haven County Bar Association, meaning he probably knows or is familiar with attorneys handling civil cases (we’ve been told there are no criminal cases pending.)

I know my fair share of lawyers and court officials from my days covering court too. I doubt anyone would want me on a jury anyway.

Everyone loosened up a bit after our half hour coffee break that’s now extended to 90 minutes. There’s free coffee and people are making nice in the break room.

People’s anxiety about getting here in time and sitting here all day has turned to resignation. It’s as if we’re all on a 9-hour trip to Italy and are settling in for a long flight. The woman in back of me is closing her eyes, and may be asleep. The guy a few rows in front of me has his Beats headphones on.

Four people, including a guy in a T-shirt with a huge beard, have commandeered a side table and are now yucking it up. I’m tempted to take the empty seat and see what all the laughing is about, but I think better of it and stay put. I like my end seat and the creaking noise it makes when I move.

The award for the most creative and forward thinking potential jurors goes to Luigi and his friend Jessica, two New Haven neighbors who realized they both had jury duty together last night.

Jessica, a medical receptionist, packed her mini Nintendo so she and Luigi could play Mario Cart in the break room. Luigi, who is manager of a downtown New Haven tequila bar, said if it wasn’t for the game, he’d probably be asleep in a chair.

But maybe Luigi was having too much fun. His name was called along with Daphne’s during the second wave of jurors to be called for voir dire, bringing an end to the hi jinx.

Luigi is hoping that having an uncle who’s a police officer will get him excused from service, but I’m not so sure.

He’s young, affable and knows how to make to best of a situation – something you want in a juror. In fact, I told him he’s probably going to get picked. Here’s a secret: I’ve always thought I’d make a great jury consultant.

As for me, I got sprung at 11:25 a.m. with about 25 other lucky souls, and rejoiced that I’ve done my duty and can’t be called for 3 years. Maybe the Curmudgeon will have better luck. He just found out he’s on for jury duty on June 21st.

My sticker. We had to turn them in before leaving.

Love Is . . .

My friend Cindy plugs her ears as the Curmudgeon reminds her that Trump had huge numbers in Milford, CT., in 2016.

One of my favorite newspaper features used to be the “Love Is. . .” cartoon.

I cut out more than my share of the cartoons over the years, and I still enjoy them today. I’ve never seen this one, but I think it could apply to the Curmudgeon and me:

Love Is . . .

Going to “An Evening With the Clintons” because your wife asked you to go.

In case you’re wondering, the Curmudgeon stepped up when I proposed forgoing a quiet evening at home to drive 40 minutes in the driving rain, fight for a parking space and wait in a downpour to see Bill and Hillary Clinton at the Oakdale Theater in Wallingford, CT.

Getting him to go wasn’t easy. And when we got there, I had to jump out of the car during a traffic jam to stand in line to get our tickets, taking our only umbrella with me.

The ever-resourceful Curmudgeon put his barn jacket over his head to combat the rain, but looked a little frazzled when he finally walked through the theater doors. As he passed through the metal detector, I had a feeling I’d be hearing “I told you so” for the rest of the night.

The Curmudgeon looked a little frazzled as he arrived Friday night.

He really didn’t want to go, and spent the previous two days telling me reasons why he’d rather stay home. “The Clintons are old news,” he said. He cited a list of other reasons, which I’ll keep to myself to avoid being accused of breaching the marital code.

But he wasn’t interested. And it was clear that I’d have to use all of my cunning and guile to convince him to join me. I started with flattery, telling him that he’s always been a fierce political animal, one of the most engaged followers of politics and current events I know.

I suggested that his disinterest in attending the Clintons’ talk indicated a softening of his edge and might even be the first signs of political apathy that sometimes accompanies old age. I reminded him that he’s a political/economics major who’s just slightly less obsessed with politics than sports.

I was getting nowhere when I pulled out the ultimate tool in the marital arsenal: the suggestion that he think about it for 24 hours and get back to me. He seemed to like that idea, or at least he didn’t argue with me.

I’m not a huge supporter of the Clintons, but I was a newspaper reporter and editor for much of Bill Clinton’s presidency. I covered Hillary Clinton’s visit to New Haven, CT., during one of her husband’s campaigns. I had the dubious honor of calling prominent Connecticut attorneys to see if they thought Bill Clinton faced impeachment after the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke. (Ah, the thrill of being a general assignment news reporter.)

I supported Hillary during her presidential run in 2016, and was among those who threatened to move to Canada if she lost. She did and we all stayed, but you get my drift. I wanted her to win, and I’m not exactly doing cartwheels about our leadership in Washington these days.

The Curmudgeon, who also voted for Hillary, considers himself a conservative Democrat, is anti Trump and is disgusted by the far right and far left. (He just told me how to describe him.) I thought he’d be a good companion at this event.

I got the idea to go to the Clinton talk one morning after seeing a commercial on TV. It sounded interesting, intriguing enough to get me out of the house on a Friday night when I usually want to veg at home. I thought it might be fun to go with the Curmudgeon. A few years ago, we saw Kareem Abdul Jabbar at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven and it was really fun.

So I thought I’d give it a shot, sending the Curmudgeon into overdrive with a series of possible scenarios.

“There aren’t going to be women crying in the audience, are there?” he asked. “Because I’m leaving if that happens.”

“I don’t think so,” I said.

“And I hope Bill Clinton is not going to talk about the #MeToo Movement,” he said. “I just hope he doesn’t go there.”

“I don’t think he will,” I offered. “I mean, we all know he’s had his own issues with women.”

After 35 years of marriage, I’m a pretty good judge of when to throw out an invitation to the Curmudgeon, and when to make my own plans. As you’ll recall, he stood firm in his refusal to see “A Star Is Born” several months ago, forcing me to go to the movies by myself to see it.

But a political talk on a Friday night, even by a pair of so-called has-beens, seemed like it might be in his wheelhouse. Knowing him as I do, I had a hard time believing he wasn’t interested in hearing what the Clintons had to say. After all, this is a man who watches “Morning Joe” while he gets ready for work, and carved out time on his vacation to watch the release of the Mueller report.

He finally relented on Friday morning, telling me he’d go and what time we should leave to get there in time. He didn’t balk when I told him I bought orchestra seats for $99 each, agreeing it made sense to sit close to the stage so we could actually see them.

But at the heart of it, I know he came as a favor to me. He told his law partner Sean that he planned to go, but added, “Please don’t tell a soul what I’m doing tonight. My wife roped me into this.”

Seeing and listening to Bill Clinton in person reminds you why he was twice elected president. He’s charming and engaging, seeming more like a good old southern boy than an erudite Yale Law School graduate and Rhodes scholar, former governor and two-term president.

He’s self-deprecating and deferential to his wife, who commanded the microphone more than he did during Friday’s talk. He captured the audience with his tales of chasing Hillary around Yale Law School like a love sick puppy, and she ate it up along with everyone else.

It’s not hard to imagine the two of them sitting at home discussing current events, though Hillary admitted they’re on a strict diet when it comes to news. And though they can both look back fondly on their political careers, they say their greatest joy today is being grandparents to their daughter Chelsea’s family, which will expand to three children this summer.

Though there are some who suggest that Hillary may be open to another run in 2020, it’s not going to happen. At least that’s my prediction. But I’ve been wrong before, so who knows? I didn’t give Tiger Woods a chance of winning the Masters, and we all know how that turned out.

Southern Nights

Nearly every year since I was 12, I’ve spent April vacation in (at?) Hilton Head Island, S.C. I thought about it, and realized that cumulatively I’ve spent an entire year on this spit of land overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

At one point, there were parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, in-laws, friends and nieces and nephews on our annual spring exodus out of New England. But this year, it’s just the three of us in our rented condo overlooking Calibogue Sound.

That’s OK. There’s plenty to do. And if we get tired, there’s always a nap by the pool or on the living room couch before our late afternoon bike ride on our rented beach cruisers.

There are years I’ve left here more tired than when I arrived. Between tennis, golf, swimming, walks along the beach and bike rides, I’d return to work feeling like an exercised race horse. But things are different this year.

I don’t want or need to be busy. I need to relax and be still – to hear waves lapping the shore and notice the dolphins’ fins breaking the surface of the Sound. I need to walk the beach at sunset and watch the southern sky turn to orange and pink behind the pines. I need to pause and assure three deer in the dunes that I mean no harm, that it’s safe to pass.

My daughter Maura took this photo during one of her solo walks on the beach.

Some people crave adventure on their vacations and I get it. Exploring new places is invigorating and good for the soul. One of our best trips was a cross country trek along the northern route of the United States. With no agenda and a month in front of us, we were as close to nomads as we’ll ever be.

My neighbors love adventure, and it’s hard to keep track of where they’ll go next. One year they spent New Year’s Eve gazing at the Northern Lights in Iceland, and now they’re in Uruguay, which I had to look up on a map.

But there’s something to be said for returning to the same spot every year. Like hummingbirds returning to their backyard feeders, there’s comfort knowing you can return to the same place every spring for rest, renewal and nourishment, even if that happens to be grits and boiled peanuts.

A lot of people look at me quizzically when I tell them I’m headed to South Carolina for vacation. “Oh, there again? Have fun,” they’ll say. It lacks the cache of the Caribbean and the sun, surf and frolic of Florida. I don’t expect them to understand.

But the barrier islands along the South Carolina and Georgia coast are incredibly beautiful, tranquil and in some cases, remote. There’s even a nearby sea island inhabited by 3,000 rhesus monkeys, though in my mellowness I passed on a chance to see it by air this year.

Singer John Cougar Mellencamp has an oceanfront spread just across the sound on Daufuskie Island that I peeked at during a helicopter tour a few years ago. And don’t forget of all the places in the world, JKF Jr. and Caroline Bassett got married on Cumberland Island, a remote barrier island off Georgia.

My parents discovered Hilton Head by chance. With my mother’s deep-seeded fear of flying and seven children to contend with in a station wagon, my father looked for southern vacation spots within a reasonable drive of Connecticut. He found Hilton Head, which was rural, undeveloped and lined with tar-paper shacks and rusted cars when we first visited in 1970.

A blue heron stands tall near a creek.

At the time, there was one plantation – Sea Pines – designed as an eco-friendly vacationland for wealthy executives. Today, there are dozens of plantations, golf courses and shopping centers lining the island, which is too commercialized if you ask me.

We’ve tried other resorts – Kiawah near Charleston, as well as Ponte Vedra and Amelia Island in nothern Florida, but have always returned to Hilton Head – perhaps because or in spite of its familiarity. There’s something nice about knowing the lay of the land, and being able to point tourists to South Beach and the Salty Dog Cafe as if we were natives.

One of my father’s biggest regrets in life was missing an opportunity to buy a beach front lot on Hilton Head, which he could have bought for about $50,000 in the early days. But my mother nixed the idea, saying managing a second house about 1,000 miles away was impractical with so many kids.

She had a point, as she usually did. My father was the dreamer and she was the practical one, or as he used to call her, the Kibosher.

So they rented places, mainly on the beach because that’s what my father wanted. My father loved the wide beaches with “squeaky” white sand and the sound of the surf, but he loved golf more. And it’s hard to come down here without thinking of him and how much he loved it.

He’s been gone 10 years now, a major milestone that’s hard to comprehend. The early years of someone’s passing are easy to track, but 10 years? How did that happen? I missed the anniversary when it came in early March, though I suppose it may explain some things like my achy joints. Perhaps they reflect the ache in my heart, which by the way, never really leaves when a parent dies.

One year down here, he was having a devilish time with his golf swing, which he picked up after reading Ben Hogan’s book Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf. After listening to him moan and groan, I offered to go to a nearby driving range with him to see if I could spot any kinks.

To my surprise, he accepted my offer to be his swing analyst. Boy, he must’ve been desperate to consider tips from such a duffer. And though there was no miraculous cure, he listened to me and made a few adjustments, eventually regaining his groove.

He was a 5 handicap at his peak, but he was more comfortable in the 8 to 10 range. His swing was smooth, and he worked on it with a weighted golf club in our backyard. He was a student of the game, often buying new clubs and shelving them in the garage when they didn’t pan out. Particularly disappointing: a set of Lee Trevino clubs with snazzy white and black patterned grips that he ditched after about a month.

He played golf by the rules, and had no patience for people who didn’t. He didn’t understand people who took multiple mulligans, kicked balls out of the woods or “sandbaggers” – players who purposely kept high handicaps so they could win. He taught me that above all, golf is an honorable game.

I think of my father most when playing golf. We spent so much time playing that it’s hard to finish a round without echoing one of his lines about swinging like a rusty gate or having a touch like a gorilla around the greens. He called traps “trapezoids” and when I’d hit a good shot, his biggest compliment was “you’re capable.”

He had so many lines, so many expressions about golf that I feel him when I’m playing. Perhaps that’s why I picked the game up in earnest again about five years ago after a long hiatus. Part of him is very much with me when I play, and I care about that much more than my score. (That’s probably a good thing, all things being equal.)

We were adventurous two years ago, taking a helicopter ride around the island.

We never know who or what will spark memories of our departed loved ones, and most of the time they find us. About a year ago, I met an older woman who reminds me so much of my paternal grandmother that I sometimes want to call her Grandma. She acts and looks like my grandmother, right down to her teeth.

Knowing her is such a gift because she reminds me of my grandmother, who has been gone for about 20 years. We discuss food, and the need for buying green bananas so you’ll have some decent ones for later in the week. We discuss the merits of different brands of bread and ice cream – the things my grandmother obsessed about (remember, this is the woman who used to ask me what I wanted for dinner as soon as I’d wake up).

It’s like that with Hilton Head and my Dad. Looking up into the pines the other day, I felt him so strongly that I welled up. That doesn’t happen too much any more – 10 years is a long time after all – yet there they were. Tears and that awful catch in my throat.

I can’t come to Hilton Head without thinking of my father because he’s very much the reason I came here. He was his best self here – relaxed, funny and free of the burdens of home and work for two weeks every April. I understand why he loved it so much because I do too.

I guess that’s why I keep coming back, and probably always will.

A Reason to Live

Matt Laufer at the opening of his art show at the Discovery Museum & Planetarium in Bridgeport, CT. One of his creations, which he paints with a paintbrush held by his teeth, hangs behind him.

If you’re in need of a little hope and inspiration, take a look at Matt Laufer.

Matt, who suffers from acute respiratory failure as a result of a spinal cord injury nearly 16 years ago, survived 11 cardiac arrests last year. It was during one of those near-death experiences that he found a reason to live: to paint and give others hope through his artwork.

Matt took center stage during the opening of his exhibit April 7th at the Discovery Museum & Planetarium in Bridgeport, CT. As he beamed and held court, visitors studied his paintings ranging from cheery giraffes and elephants to colorful scenics and abstracts.

Woods
Beach Life

Museum officials say Matt’s opening is the largest in history at the Park Avenue venue. That didn’t surprise his mom Jane, who admitted she invited everyone she knew to the opening.

Along with his paintings, some of Matt’s poetry hung on the gallery walls. It shed light on his struggle to come to terms with his devastating injury, which occurred when he was rear-ended by a tractor-trailer truck on Interstate 95 in May 2003. Along with the physical paralysis came emotional devastation. His injury and wheelchair confinement left Matt severely depressed, anxious and reclusive.

One of Matt’s poems.

“He wasn’t ready to die,” said Jane, who was my high school classmate at Lauralton Hall in Milford, CT. “When he was crossing over to the other side, he realized that he wanted to fight. He has his purpose in life now.”

Matt’s latest chapter shows that even when things seem their most grim, there is hope. It also shows the strength of the human spirit, and that it’s never too late to find your purpose. After battling for his life, Matt emerged with a fierce determination to create. He’s loved art since his teens, but had to teach himself to paint using his mouth.

Using paint and a brush held with his teeth, Matt uses paint to express emotions that otherwise would be bottled up. His paintings reflect a range of human emotion, from happiness and whimsy to darkness and brooding.


Green Grass

Coming so close to death convinced Matt that he needed to take better care of himself too. He put on weight, and got a tracheal tube inserted that’s used at night to help him breathe. He’s back to living on his own with the help of a team of full-time nurses. His parents recently relocated to Tennessee, where Jane has found a job.

I get a lot of invitations to attend events via Facebook. But Jane’s invite caught my eye because the last I’d heard, Matt was in the final stages of acute respiratory failure. Jane left her job as a registered nurse, shuttered her fledgling clothing business and moved into his house to care for him full-time. It was clear his deteriorating condition were taking a huge emotional and financial toll on Jane and her family.

I even asked for her input writing a piece for the Connecticut chapter of the National Organization of Women about a proposed family leave bill. Jane graciously shared her story with me. http://now-ct.org/?s=jane+laufer

So it was with a mixture of delight and curiosity that I read the invitation about Matt’s opening. Along with the invite was a short video clip of Matt painting – with a paintbrush clenched in his teeth. I’d read books about paralyzed artists who paint this way, but had never seen their work in person.

I wanted to see Matt and his work because in a way, he’s a miracle. A year ago, he was at death’s door. Today, he is vibrant and alive, with a sparkle in his eyes, fans waiting in line to meet him and dozens of paintings to his credit.

Matt’s mother Jane Laufer, right, greets one of hundreds of visitors at his opening.

I tracked down Jane sitting with one of Matt’s full-time aides in an adjacent room away from the fray. She seemed surprised to see me. But if I’ve learned one thing over the years, it’s the importance of showing up. I’ve also learned that it’s incredibly important to support artists because often positive feedback is the only thing that keeps them going.

I go to plays, recitals, band concerts and business grand openings of people I know because I know what it’s like to put yourself and your work out there for public consumption. Sometimes, a positive word or an unexpected laugh from the audience is all you need to keep going.

But I also went because I wanted to support Jane and her love and devotion to her son. I first met Jane when we were both 14 and freshman at Lauralton Hall, where we strolled the halls in blue jumpers, bobby socks and saddle shoes. We were among a class of 90 at the all-girls private Catholic high school.

I’d seen Jane about five years ago – or was it 7? – at our last high school reunion. With her trademark red hair and sparkling blue eyes, she was as bubbly and effervescent as I’d remembered her in high school. She was a popular girl and cheered for our “brother” school Fairfield Prep, but was always down to the earth and friendly to everyone.

On our graduation day in June, 1976, we sang Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” The song came on the radio last week as I drove home and I found myself singing along. We had to memorize the words back in high school, and they came back to me – for the most part.

Particularly striking: “Your time has come to shine/all your dreams are on their way.” The song reminded me of Jane and my classmates and how much promise the future holds when you’re 18. Your whole life is in front of you and full of possibility. You have no idea that broken dreams or tragedy could be part of the mix too.

And though my high school days were far from perfect, hearing that song sealed the deal. I was going to Matt’s opening, if for no other reason than to support an artist who has found his way, and the mother who never left his side.

Matt delights in greeting visitors, who stood in line for a chance to meet him.

My Netflix Fix

I gave up some things for Lent, but I replaced them with Netflix.

A few weeks ago my friend Barbara sent me an article about Lent, figuring I might want to blog about it.

Nothing really came to mind. As in most years, I’ve given up unhealthy between meal snacks like potato chips and desserts like ice cream. Cape Cod potato chips are my downfall. I don’t realize how much until Lent rolls around and there are none in the house.

Giving up things during Lent is good because it teaches us to do without for 40 days in hopes of growing closer to God. And though I’m also trying to do more for others and go to confession – the Curmudgeon suggested that I ask the priest for a two-hour time block to cover all my sins – Lent wouldn’t seem the same without giving up a few indulgences.

I was feeling pretty pleased with myself until I realized that I’d replaced my Lenten sacrifices with a new vice: Netflix. Over the past few weeks, I’ve binge-watched at least a half-dozen Netflix shows ranging from Turn Up Charlie and Friends from College to my current addiction, Nurse Jackie.

Over the past two weeks – OK, let’s be honest one week – I’ve consumed seven seasons of the show starring Edie Falco as a drug-addicted emergency room nurse. At my most depraved, I sat through six 25-minute shows in a row, watching expectantly as the seconds ticked down to the next episode.

I’m watching in horror as a woman battles an enormous addiction problem when in truth I’m addicted to the show. I know it’s not how I should be spending my time – anything would be more productive – yet I sit as one episode turns into six.

I need to get through this series and find out what happens so I can get to pressing business like cleaning my house and dealing with a name change on my social security card (long story). I even thought about skipping four episodes so I could watch the finale and be done with it. (I finally finished it yesterday. Spoiler alert: the end is somewhat disappointing.)

I’m not sure why binge-watching Netflix is so addictive, but I think part of it is the ability to watch a series from beginning to end in a compacted period of time without commercials. Netflix makes it so easy. As the closing credits roll, a preview of the next episode appears and well, what’s another 25 minutes of your time?

It all seems so harmless until you do a little research and realize that binge-watching is actually a form of addiction. Studies show that the same brain pathways that cause drug and sex addiction are also involved binge-watching shows. This, of course, is no real surprise. By now, we know that anything pleasurable usually has consequences.

I know a lot of people who’ve backed away from social media because it’s an enormous time sucker, but not so much about people cutting back on Netflix. In fact, newspapers like the New York Times even compile lists of the 10 most binge-worthy shows. Most of the time, I’ve never heard of any of the shows. I’m so out of the loop when it comes to hip shows, which may explain why I’m just getting around to Nurse Jackie.

I didn’t start out to be a binge watcher, but I’m not sure anyone sits down and consciously decides to waste half a day watching a series that ended in 2015. Like many other bingers, I was initially drawn to Netflix because most network TV shows don’t interest me.

I watch so little network TV that I don’t know when most shows are on. I can go three or four weeks before I realize that I’ve missed a few episodes of This Is Us. I know that I can watch it whenever I want, so there’s no need to park myself in front of the TV at 9 p.m. Tuesdays.

Years ago, I structured my weeknights around my favorite TV shows because that was the only way to watch them. I associated different nights with certain shows – Dallas was Friday night, Cheers and Seinfeld were on Thursday and Melrose Place on Tuesday – and planned my evening around them.

But being tied to a TV schedule is no longer necessary with On Demand, Netflix and other streaming services. You can watch what you want when you want, and for some of us that’s not a good thing. Some of us have a tiny problem with self control, and knowing when it’s time to step away from the screen.

I met a nice woman last weekend who confessed to holing herself up with her husband in her New York City apartment for an entire weekend watching Breaking Bad – a show I’ve never watched. What I’ve learned is that a binge is very personal: what’s binge-worthy to one person seems a stupendous waste of time to another.

I suspect part of binge-watching is an outgrowth of our desire for immediate gratification these days. Why devote a whole season watching something when you can gobble it up within a week? Still, there’s not a whole lot of time for other things during a binge. Minutes turn into hours, and pretty soon you’ve missed your window to walk the dog or catch up with your spouse.

They say that one of the first things steps of recovery is recognizing that you’ve got a problem, and I do. I don’t feel particularly happy or satisfied when my binging is over, and like too much food or drink, too much TV isn’t good for the mind, body or spirit.

So I’m adding Netflix binging to my list of Lenten abstentions. I’m not watching multiple episodes of anything, and hopefully I will have kicked the habit by Easter.

The idea of Lent isn’t to replace one vice with another, which I’m afraid I did with my binge-watching. It reminds me of a woman I know who told me she was giving up wine for Lent and drinking vodka instead. Um, nice try, but no.

Of course, as any Catholic will tell you, I’m entitled to one cheat day a week and I’m human, so there will be Netflix. (I just watched Amy Schumer’s comedy special “Growing.” I love her.) But the mindless binging for hours on end is over, unless I get sick. Then, all bets are off.