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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

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Day in the Life: Empty-nester Joel Fenton

5:45 a.m. — The duck call alarm on my iPhone starts to wake me up. A few snooze taps later and I am out of bed at slightly after six.

6:36 a.m. — Start listening to 538’s podcast on Kavanaugh hearings.

6:40 a.m.  — Picking suit and tie combo, toy briefly with a bow tie, but no patience to tie it a second (or third) time if it doesn’t come out correctly the first time. Charcoal and plum tie.

6:59 a.m.  — Dachshund puppy Louis stirs and needs a trip outside. I set him in the family room to eat or drink and he starts the plaintive whining/chirping sound that means he’d prefer to play with Dad.

7:40 a.m. — Stop for coffee and bagel on the way to the Warren County, Iowa Courthouse for an expected plea hearing for one of my clients.

8:33 a.m.  — Checking phone to see who has been arrested and taken to Polk County Jail overnight. After doing criminal defense work for a number of years, it’s rare not to know someone in the 20 to 30 person group that is typically taken into custody.

8:42 a.m. — Review three memes sent by Grinnell senior son [fentonma]. Batting average of about .667 in comprehending memes he sends me; true to form two are funny and the third is surreal absurdism I cannot fathom at this early hour.

8:45 a.m.  — Client has still not shown up. County attorney recommends an arrest warrant be entered by a judge to bring him in at some point.

8:59 a.m.  — Checking voice mail on way back to Des Moines office. Try to call a client but their voice mail is not set up.

9:35 a.m. — At office checking mail and calendar for rest of day and week. Two more hearings in Polk County this afternoon; hopefully clients will show up.

10:22 a.m.  — Draft and file appearance and motion for discovery in felony forgery case. Large adult son calls, inquires about Louis’ status. I hypothetically speculate he is napping in his crate.

11:42 a.m.  — Venture to grocery store near house and pick up cheese sticks and 8-ounce container of three bean salad for lunch. Freshman daughter at U of Iowa texts in panic about mid-term grade in general psychology test. Calls me directly for encouragement. Thinks score is low, she finds out from friends as call progresses the grade is curved and other friends in the class had even lower scores — anxiety subsides.

11:56 a.m.  — Return home to let dog out of crate, let him frolic for 20 minutes and then head back to Polk County Courthouse.

1:33 p.m. — Deal with county attorney forged to keep client with addiction issues out of prison and on probation so long as she keeps up with treatment.

3:12 p.m.  — Juvenile Court hearing, client father and mother are both maintaining sobriety and the case is progressing well toward reunification with their children.

3:47 p.m.  — Son sends some piece of astrological lore by e-mail. I disregard it as empirically unproven pseudoscientific woo-woo.

5:16 p.m. —  Driving home, finish 538 podcast and start Marc Maron’s podcast interview with Slash.

6:59 p.m.  — Do quick pass over daughter’s mini paper for her mythology class. Suggest two minor revisions.

9:35 p.m.  — Both college children check in via FaceTime to see how dog is doing. Louis cocks head to one side as he hears each voice. I mention my sore knee and my health and well-being are summarily considered and disregarded by both children.

10:40 p.m. — Wife and I sit on couch with sleeping dachshund to watch a couple of reruns of M*A*S*H before bed.

*Maxwell Fenton is the co-editor in chief of The S&B.


Joel Fenton, father of Grinnellian Max Fenton ’19 [fentonma] and non-Grinnellian Alexandra Fenton, cuddles with his new son Louis in his empty nest.
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