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Bunkmates Birthday

So it was my bunkmates birthday on Thursday, and it is now Sunday and I am starting to figure some more prison things out.

She has been in prison for 14 years and all of her friends that have been with her in one prison or another have taken it upon themselves to cook all weekend and oh how they can cook. I have eaten more in the last 4 days than I think I have in the last month. Here’s the other really fun part of this story. They are all black and I am the only white person in the group. Sitting for 4 days at a table with a bunch of black woman who are all over the age of 40 (except 1) is hysterical. I cannot keep up. They talk, and they talk, and they talk, usually all at the same time because one or two of them start answering way before the person talking is done saying whatever they are saying, but that person doesn’t stop saying whatever they are saying the entire time the other 2 or 3 are answering. Finally, after the second day, and me having sat there saying nothing but “wait, who, wait what, wait I don’t understand” my bunky leaned over and said, “ole bird, it’s not polite to keep asking those questions, just wait and keep listening you will figure it out or just remember to ask me later and I will tell you.” I agreed, until later when I can’t remember one thing I was going to ask!!!!

The other funny part of this story is the new “prison” name they gave me. You may recall that everyone here has a prison name…mine has been Kardashian, or my bunky calls me ole bird, (not OLD bird, but ole bird). However after this weekend they now say I have another new nickname and it’s Taneequa. That’s because they think I am becoming just as loud as they are so I have to have a name that fits when I am with them:) Funnnnny. I told them I only get loud because it’s the only darn way they are ever going to hear a word I have to say over all of them talking all at once.

Another one of my friends has come back to this fine establishment. I have now had 9 of the people I got to know when I first got here just a mere year ago get out, and come back. All on parole violations which basically means they did something they were not supposed to in the half way house, or in this case most of them broke the conditions of their probation. Here is the interesting part…the majority of them were in here on drug charges of some sort….most got caught up on the phone or a conspiracy charge for selling drugs, all very minor, so the sentencing judge knows they are addicts, make their money selling, put’s them in here for a number of years, they get no help whatsoever, they get out, they can’t pass a urine test within months of getting out, so they send them back for a few more months, let them out again, they break parole again, and this time when they send them back they tell them the are going to add another 60 days to their stay here so they will be “off paper” meaning no more probation so that the government can quit sending them back. I am confused. At what point did they solve a problem? They still have a person addicted to drugs that they thought was so horrible that they wanted to catch them and throw them in prison. No rehab…but wait, that’s right, these prisons are called “correctional facilities” but there really is no correction, but they keep them for a number of years, feed them, cloth them, clean them off of all street drugs anyway, send them back out to try it again and then are shocked when they come back. Hmmmmmm….I am thinking someone needs to re-think the system. Apparently, it’s not working.

Oh well this is what I do all day long. It’s like a circus. Around and around we go. That’s all for today:)

Prison Jobs

As many of you know, the only place in America that slavery actually still exists, and is legal, is prison. Really. True story. If you don’t believe me read your constitution. Its there in black and white. However, in prison they pay you to be a slave. They don’t give you a choice but they do pay you. Of course most jobs pay .12 cents per hour so it’s not the type of job I would suggest anyone run right out and try to nab:)

That being said, my slave job was being a clerk of the recreation center here at Dublin. I can honestly say I learned more skills as far as computer work than I have learned in my entire career, just ask my husband, and he was duly impressed with some of the things I created that I sent to him. My job entailed, hiring of inmates for the various job positions, doing all their paperwork, where inmates swore they read and understood everything they were signing and how all the chemicals they cleaned with could be hazardous to their health. I did the payroll. I scheduled all the aerobic and hobby craft classes, did all the paperwork when the inmates completed the classes etc. etc. etc….Suffice it to say it ended up being a 7 day a week job.

I didn’t mind so much working 7 days a week for $27.00 a month but it was the work environment that I quickly started looking at. I found that for every 4 hours I spent at my prison “job” I actually got about 10 minutes worth of work done. Only in America, under the umbrella of the Federal Gov’t, would anyone require that someone sit around at their beck and call and do absolutely nothing but wait for them to get off their computers so one could be ready to do anything they may need. Or where else on earth does one have 10 employees show up to work and have them just stand around (or sit) and do nothing until they are ready to unlock a tool room? Who does that? Where else on the face of this planet does that happen? Where else does one have at their disposal people who in the real world would be worth anywhere from $15.00 to $50.00 per hour at their finger tips and it’s just not important to put those people to work to better a system because…who cares why? The people who work here are simply government employees as well and they don’t care anymore than the inmates do. And speaking frankly there is 100 more inmate employees where those came from. There will always be another inmate sitting around waiting at someone’s beck and call.

So I quit. I am now one of 2 photographers. At my photography job I know that every minute I spend at that job I am putting a smile on someone’s face and I am productive. I have learned a lot about myself over the course of a year. I have learned that I hate to sit around and be idle. Anyone who knows me knows that. I have always prided myself on being an amazing multi-tasker and I usually don’t drop any of the balls. As age is setting in that may change. Also, my mind is always going. The other thing I have learned is that I love to read. I didn’t used to like to read because I never had time, or so I thought. Now I would say I never made time. I was to busy keeping my balls going. So I quit my prison job mainly because, I wanted to do me. I wanted to work out for more than 5 minutes without someone yelling my name to come and sit…and wait…because they were sure there was something they needed me to do. I didn’t want to sit and wait…anymore. I wanted to do me.

Now I am doing me and back to working out, back to reading, and back to taking naps…and going to classes and using my time super productively.

 

 

Haters.

I told one of my daughters during a recent visit that I was going to do a blog about “haters”. I have come to realize that in life there are “haters”. Boy there are haters. We all have them. I believe even Mother Teresa had haters. My daughter replied to me that she did not like the word at all, or the connotation, and what it brings. I happen to agree with her but it still does not negate the fact that the world is full of the behavior. She said, “Mom, maybe you could just not call them haters.” I tried to look up a synonym of the word hate…but the behavior I was speaking on always comes right back to the word “hate.” It’s a strong word for sure and in fact if one hates, which is the definition in Webster, they should leave well enough alone, but they don’t.

Let me back up. The topic stemmed from a conversation that my bunkies and I were having a few days ago about the difference of the woman I have met in prison who are “haters” vs. the people I have experienced in the outside world that are “haters’. I was telling them that I actually have grown to appreciate and respect the people in here who hate for one reason or another. Why? Because they do it to your face. There is no wondering what people actually think about you, about what your doing, about what race you are, about the way you cook, dress, talk, anything in fact. They will tell you. Straight up. AND they will still come and visit, hang out, ask your opinion about something…and many have actually become not so much of a hater anymore. In the outside world not so much. In reflecting back I find that we generally try to mind our manners, pretend that we like someone, pretend that they don’t annoy us, and then here’s the one that really get’s me…..behind their backs we are so willing to talk trash about them, hide behind our computers, phones, and hate, and hate, and hate. They spew lies; send blogs, letters, hate mail, all of their one-sided beliefs and opinions.

So the continuation of those discussions has been a new path for me. I am working hard and saying things bluntly, yet respectfully, in the moment, and not carrying things around with me. My roommate does this beautifully. At first I spent a lot of time with hurt feelings until I realized that it really is possible to call someone out on behaviors that bother me, or on things that I notice and it has nothing to do with how I feel about that person. It’s amazing how much freedom there is in just speaking up and telling someone to their face how you feel or what you’re thinking. Its also amazing how much you will learn about the person and the opportunities it affords in self-growth.

So, daughter, if I had to re-title this blog I would change the word haters, to cowards. Because I have learned that I have lived a lot of my life being a big coward and it’s actually been fun to learn a different way of doing it. AND the best part…I haven’t gotten beaten up yet and if I was going to get beaten up for this new found freedom of speech I am learning I am sure I would have gotten it here much faster than in the real world:)

 

It’s been a long time since I have blogged.

My friends have been faithfully reminding me of this. There are all kinds of reasons why, but when my husband actually sends me an e-mail and asks why I have not been blogging…Well, that clearly means it’s time to blog again.

The absence of my words is not due to my being “down” or “depressed” as many friends are asking. I am actually on a quiet journey that many people in life don’t get to go on. I feel blessed. Recently a friend blogged about how in her writing about the beauty she finds in the battle they are in (her husband is in the progressive stages of ALS) that people feel somehow she is in denial, or uttering the “good Christian girl responses” to their plight, or using it as some sort of marketing ploy. It was in that moment of reading what they are going through that I realized that what my battle is and what I face daily, and the way I am dealing with it is precisely where I fell off the blog bandwagon. People don’t understand it, judge it, have opinions about how I am dealing with it; the list goes on and on. And then there are the haters. Oh boy they hate. Then there are the people here who read our e-mails that tell other inmates what is being said, and they hate. They feel that perhaps I am not taking this whole “jail” thing seriously. Perhaps I am not. But I sure am using every last minute of my time here to come out on the other side of the mountain and survive and thrive. No one can take that from me.

There will always be haters. I have learned that should you ever find yourself the victim of other peoples bitterness, smallness, or insecurities, remember things could be much worse…you could be them. It’s hard for most people to believe that sometimes people move far beyond both the life altering negative effects of a life trauma, whether emotional or physical, and the usual perceived post traumatic growth. Often we don’t just grow when we have been through something like this, we revolutionize our lives! We own the word vicissitude! Ourselves and others transform and transcend our own suffering even while enduring it. That’s what I feel like is going on right now in my life. It’s where I am. I am reaching to the farthest corners of my mind to take advantage of this time. To reflect back on things I had not had time to reflect on, to grow, to think, to ponder, to read, to re-new and re-connect with what I am passionate about. I truly believe and now understand how people who have survived any kind of trauma in their lives often transform the worst thing that can ever happen to them into the best! That’s what I am doing every single day.

There is a woman here who I am very close too. Her son was shot in the back of the head on New Years Day last year (2013). It was her only child, killed needlessly by a random drive by shooting. He was 19 and had his whole life in front of him. When I tell you there is NOTHING, NOTHING, NOTHING, that can ever happen to her that she will ever have to fear again and not think she will be able to live through it, it’s that. I have learned that only when you have lived through something that you think is the worst possible thing that can ever happen to you, and you survive, can one truly say…I am leaping Lord, I am not afraid because I know you are there to catch my fall, pick me up, wipe away the tears, and point me in the right direction and I will survive! And I will be better for it!

Now understand me when I say it’s still a struggle. For instance, about 2 months ago I was eating a delicious “heart healthy” veggie burger they serve here every Wednesday, harder than hard that burger was…when I realized that one of my teeth that sit right next to my front tooth that has a cap on it was jutting slightly forward. I then realized it was loose. When I tell you I freaked out…you would have roared laughing like my roommates did! I was up all night, in a cold sweat…immediately went to dental sick call the next day with the tooth still in my mouth where as I was laying in the chair the dentist said to me “okay let’s just pop this thing out and see what we have underneath.” I replied, “What do you mean?” She said, “well if there is decay or the tooth underneath is cracked we will have to just pull it, and that’s usually what happens when these crowns pop off like this.” I said, “well then what do we do about my tooth?” She said, “Well, you just won’t have one!” I said, “LIKE YOU MEAN I WILL BE TOOTHLESS?” She said, “yes, I’m afraid so. The BOP doesn’t allow us to do crowns!” I have never shot up out of a chair so fast in my life. I let her know that she wouldn’t be touching my tooth this day and out the door I went! Long story short I nursed that tooth along for 2 months until it finally fell out. I was sick about it. I had nightmares about being toothless. The night it finally fell out, I have never been so relieved in my entire life about anything! Half the women here have no teeth, and the stress of babying that tooth along was all consuming. The next Monday I walked into the dentist here, she looked at it, told me nothing was wrong with it except the stem on it was a bit short and promptly re-glued it back in! I have learned that I don’t ask enough questions. I make a lot of assumptions. I am still afraid of things that I really have no control over. And I am learning and growing and I am only going to get better as time goes on.

There husband and friends how do you like this?

Many more to come.

It’s amazing what one can learn by being in prison

For instance did you know that high speed car chases cause nearly 400 deaths per year in the US and cost the government more than a billion dollars a year in damages, lawsuits, and medical expenses? Well, there is a company called StarChase that has just come up with a solution that is being used by several police departments already that consists of a double barreled compressed air unit that is installed in the grille of a police car and is loaded with twin 4.5 inch GPS projectiles sticky “bullets” that stick onto a suspects car. It is launched using an in car console or remote key fob! The system uses laser acquisition to target the suspect’s fleeing or stationay car and then shoots one of the GPS cartridges like a spud out of a potato gun at its rear end so that once it’s tagged, the GPS module relays the car’s coordinates, heading, and speed every 3 to 5 seconds to police dispatch. One roadblock is the price apparently which is $5,000 per police car and each bullet costs about $250.00 a pop, pardon the pun………Technology at it’s best but wait there’s more………

New technology has arrived that can perform a drug test using finger prints in a matter or moments. Thanks to new. real-life technology from Paul Yates and his colleagues at Intelligent Fingerprinting, fingerprints can now be used because if you are on drugs, you sweat out evidence in your fingers. You won’t be sweating out the actual drugs, but rather unique, broken-down by-products. The exact amounts are minusclue, but with this technology, that information can be used to dtermine if the finger’s owner has been using or is currently under the influence of drugs like nicotine, cannabis, cocaine and even methadone! It works by coating the fingerprint residue with gold nanoparticles covered in antibodies. The antibodies will then stick to certain metabolites (byproducts of drugs, specifically) at which point a dye will highligh the metabolites the antibodies have singled out and bam, quick and easy drug testing.

This is what happens when you have lots of time to read magazines and books. I am just a wealth of information now that I never would have known before:)

Other than that the only thing going on is that spring is finally sprung here, the baby geese have all been born and I probably know more about geese than I ever ever ever ever wanted to know, and man are they cute when born but within days they start getting really ugly and by 2 weeks they are almost as big as the parents and super duper ugly. Doesn’t take long for these little guys to grow that’s for sure.

That’s it for now. A couple of good fights this week out in the middle of the yard but nothing else really going on to speak of.

This place looks like a war zone right now

Apparently every year they have a group that comes in to do an inspection to make sure the prison is being properly run and maintained and depending on how this inspection turns out, it will dictate how much funding the prison gets for the next year. In addition to that, the prison must pass the inspection because if they fail 3 years in a row they will shut the prison down. So, hence the mass improvements going on. Painting, roofing, landscaping, new showers (we have had 5 that have never been completed after they stopped working in this unit alone) so you can imagine the fights for showers with 350 woman and only 8 showers that work. Other things like the awning over the commissary building where once a week we all have to stand outside either in the rain or extreme sun and heat because the awning fell apart over a year ago and still has not been replaced until now:) But, this is my favorite part….they repainted the interior of the chow hall to a burgundy (it was stark white) and they hung pictures so it’s beautiful in there now. The part that cracks me up is they just got new blowers above the doors that when you open them and walk it they about blow your head off. So as I was walking in the other morning I noticed this huge new rug that was on the floor that says FCI Dublin Correctional Excellence. Then on one side it says Integrity and on the other it says Respect. I could say all kinds of things about this HUGE new floor rug. My first thought was “wow, that’s awesome that someone actually has put thought into that saying on this FCI Dublin rug” at which time right behind that came “hmmmmm, I wonder if they passed on this new vision to their CO’s in particularly the one that kicked the table over in our day room the other night, or the one that knocked the water bottle off the ledge during count with his fist so hard that it flew the entire length of the hall and hit the other window at the other end” or the one in the rec building that when he was asked for the remote to turn on the TV above the exercise equipment the other morning yelled at the top of his lungs “I don’t know where the F_______in remote is and I don’t have time to look for the F_______in remote because I don’t care if you F________in people watch TV while your working out or not!” Hmmmmmmmmm my bet is that they are not all on the same page.

All of that being said, in all seriousness, the new warden here is amazing and is making great changes and it’s very inspiring and it’s been fun to watch what happens when really good management shows up and how things change so rapidly.

Okay that’s it for today. I had a great surprise visit this weekend that just set the pace for the week. I am blessed and happy for sure!

Tami

Health Care

There is a saying that is near and dear to everyone and anyone who has ever been in Federal Prison and perhaps State or County that you better not get sick in here or you will likely die here. Thankfully I am healthy as a horse and have always been blessed with amazing health.

So let imagine my surprise when I saw my name on the call out for a mamogram on Friday. This should be fun, I thought to myself. I went up to medical and surprisingly was called back within an hour (the usual wait time for any medical is 2 to 3 hours). In a room I went and lo and behold they were training someone new to do the mamograms so there were 2 ladies there and they said “okay take your clothes off.” Just like that…..get em off let’s go, time’s awastin………so off went my clothes, it doesn’t take long in here to not be shy any longer, just like having a baby…….and then after all of that, I can say it was one of the funnest mamograms I have ever had because the new lady was super sweet and they discussed all of their findings right in front of me which was nothing but she did have to take them over again because she got my chin in a couple of them. Hmmmmmm how does that happen you might ask? Well I am going to go with “it must be my new work out routine working” hahahahahaha.

Now my poor husband on the other hand….after convincing him to go to medical because he thinks he may have a sinus infection, he did go, waited the 2 hours, to be told that the doctor wouldn’t be in for 3 weeks and he should come back then! Again, that’s our government working for us. Perhaps they should consider letting us keep our own insurance AND USE IT!

I was called in on Wednesday on the call out for an “x-ray.” When I got to medical there were about 20 of us there for this “x-ray.” When we sent one of the workers back to ask the woman doing the “x-ray’s” why they were “x-raying” us she told her it was none of our damn business and we were having “x-ray’s” because our names were on the call out to have one. I told the head medical guy I was refusing the “x-ray,” he said “Sawyer, you can’t refuse it” I said “watch me, your not radiating my body for no reason, and I am leaving now to go talk to the Warden about this, to which he replied, “now Sawyer, I will just end up putting your name right back on the list” to which I smiled nicely (because I am taking hormones now so I am much nicer these days) and said “we shall see.” I went looking for the Warden, could not find him because he was in another unit, ran into my bunky who conviced me to go back and sit there and she would come with me so we could play cards or something and by the time we had gotten back (2 hours from the time I had my call out time) they cancelled all of the x-rays and told us they would put us all back on the call out!

So yes folks that’s what I do every day:) At least I don’t have to drive anywhere to do absolutely nothing all day right?

More later……

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