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The thing that I have dreaded the most happened….

The thing that I have dreaded the most happened…..first the e-mail saying to call home ASAP and then everyone saying that the counselor had been calling my name on the intercom to come to his office right away……the dread of not wanting to call home, and not even wanting to go to the counselors office because nothing good could be waiting and the news wasn’t going to be anything I wanted to hear. My mother had a major stroke, is in ICU, surrounded by tons of family and friends that are loving and supporting and will be on their knees praying non stop for her and my father, thankfully. For me, it’s hard for me to even picture what is going on, to process it, what it looks like, what it means, any of it really. I felt so many things when I heard the news, thankful beyond words that no one had died, and that my children, and grandchildren were safe, something I pray for daily, and yet my mom in a single moment can’t talk, or walk, or recognize my dad, or brother, or girls? How did that happen? So what I can do from here is pray, and be still, and talk to my girls and think, and wonder, and be thankful that I have a slew of memories to hold onto.

I have seen so many woman since I have been here go through this process of something happening to a family member. Everyone handles tragedy differently, but the one overriding thing that seems to happen to all of us when there is simply nothing we can do to help, surrounded in an environment where really we know no one, and we are not surrounded by friends or family, is that it just doesn’t seem real. It’s so hard to explain or put into words but I have heard many woman say that they feel like the death of a child, parent, or loved one or any type of tragedy while incarcerated doesn’t quite hit home because they are not there, they have not seen it, and therefore they are not experiencing the full impact of what happened.
I have a really good idea of what happened, and it’s not good, but I do know this….I am a fighter and I got it from someone and I would like to think that my mom had quite a bit to do with that so she is going to fight as well. First, she is going to rest and then she is going to start the long road to recovery and she will be victorious because she has one hell of a man standing beside her who is one of the toughest, logical, strongest men I know so she is in really good hands. And more than all of that with God on her side fighting the battle for her, well that’s all any of us really need to know. She’s in awesome hands.

Tamara

Birthday Weekend

Sometimes certain birthdays and events stand out in our lives more than others. I will never forget my 50th birthday party, I had the greatest friends a person could ever hope for surrounding me, or my 30th birthday, as it still marks the one birthday that I felt my age more than any other for some reason…..but this birthday weekend, well it takes the cake! I got to see Kevin after 2 years. I still think there is some message in the fact that I got to see him exactly 2 years to the date from the last time I physically was able to touch him, and I will tell you this, after 5 minutes it was like no time had passed at all. It’s odd how that happened. It was like we were on a picnic, sitting outside drinking coffee just chatting away. So much to talk about, so many stories to tell. We laughed and laughed, and planned and talked.

When he left, with Megan, I was sad, but actually felt more excited than sad because I knew he would be back and I also knew that we had passed a huge milestone in our lives and what this really means is we are on to bigger and more exciting times. It was also a great reminder after living here day in and day out that I have such a great life, and the best kids, grand kids and friends a person could ever hope to find.

So while we are allowed only a hug and a kiss when we first see each other, and a hug and a kiss when we leave, our connection is so strong that nothing can break it, and look out when I get home! I called Sara last night, Sunday, to talk to her and London and she said, “Mom, Kevin said you looked so so good he couldn’t believe it!” I laughed, because truthfully, on the 2nd day he did keep telling me that, but I am kinda thinking this is either like the pink swimsuit story, where I only heard about what he really thought a year later, OR it’s that of course I looked really really good, the poor man has been all alone for 2 years, OR he really is excited that I do look wwwwawaaaaayyyyyyy better than I did when we started this prison journey:) And for me, all that really matters is that my husband was here and he really really really was excited to see me and thinks I look great!

Husband, if you are reading this, know that you are the most amazing man, steadfast, honorable, filled with integrity, strong, loving, solid, and I am blessed to call you my own. Happy Happy Happy Birthday to you! Now don’t forget to put cream on your face okay? hahahahahah (you knew that was coming)

What an amazing week it has been…

I got to talk to Kevin for the first time in 2 years. Well, we did get to hear each others voices once when we were both teleconferenced in on a court hearing about a year ago and that felt like the most amazing thing that ever happened. This, this was truly like winning the lottery. Lot’s of things happened that I didn’t expect. I had 300 minutes to “burn up” before I re-validated in one week. (we are only allowed to use 300 minutes worth of phone calls per month) When I tell you I used every minute, I used every minute. So, after the 2nd call I was instantly transported back in time to a place as though nothing has happened. It was like every time in our lives that I have ever picked up the phone and called my husband. I.LOVED.IT!!!! Second, and what I didn’t anticipate, is that it made me miss him more than ever! So many times in a day now when I find myself deeply missing that man! I wish we were golfing, I wish I was in the yard working, I wish we could be sitting on the deck with a glass of wine, I wish I was cooking dinner at home right now, I wish, I wish, I wish. All of the wishes with him in the picture. Don’t get me wrong I have always missed him but now….Oh how I miss that man. All of that being said the very best part was I got to pester him:) It was only after about the 5th call that it started. It just came back. I didn’t mean for it too it simply just rolled out of my mouth…..honey……are you putting cream on your face every morning and every single night? There was silence on the other end of the phone for quite a few seconds. Helllllllooooo, helllllooooo, then, “no, I have not been putting cream on my face!” And then we started laughing. Ah ha! Now are you still so happy to hear my voice mister? Of course he was. (and a few days later I did receive an e-mail saying that he had started putting cream on his face again:)

About 3 days into our phone calls I was telling Kevin I was laying in bed early one morning thinking, ohhhhh I wish my husband was here to bring me a cup of coffee and wave it in front of my nose like he always does to get me out of bed, when a memory of something he said sharply interrupted my beautiful thoughts….so of course I jumped straight up out of bed because I had to clarify it with him, you know I can call him now. It went like this. “Hello? Hi honey, it’s me. Hi love, how are you this morning? Well, thank you. Hey you know when we were talking the other day and you said “have you been thinking about what you are going to do when you get home? Yes. Well what exactly did you mean by that because it sounded like you have all kinds of plans for what I should be doing when I get home, and can I at least lay around for a few days?” He said NO!!!! The he capitulated and said yes for a couple of days, but warned me that the minute I get home that the days of napping, reading, exercising whenever I wanted and just hanging out are OVER!!!!! Imagine that!

So life has been awesome just hearing the voice that grounds me, makes me smile, makes me laugh, gives me comfort and that I have grown to depend and lean on.

Valentine’s Day

What a weekend. It’s interesting how different our perspectives on certain holidays can be when we are taken completely out of the lifestyle we have become accustomed to living. Take for instance my present location (okay prison let’s just say that) and an all woman’s prison that, agree or disagree, has a large degree of gay people and let’s face it, we are woman so by nature we love Valentines Day. Hearts, flowers & love abound. It was and always is on every holiday fun for me to sit back and watch what goes on in the making, planning and executing gifts, decorations or just simply displays of affection by making food, planning a special meal etc. A great deal of these woman are truly gifted in what they can pull off with next to nothing! It was really fun to watch, until the morning of Valentines Day that is when the compound officers started taking and throwing into the trash anything that even looked like it had anything to do with Valentines Day. Then they proceeded to spread the word to all the units early in the morning that they better not see anyone walking across the compound with anything that looked like it either. (Well good morning to you as well) Why you ask? Who knows. I am sure if you ask them they have some BOP explanation that they are going to use to justify why they would take something that someone spent hours using their creative minds to make and simply trash it. If you ask the woman here…well they have a completely different theory that ranges from, “they are just jealous that no one got them anything for Valentines Day ” to “their just complete jerks” to well the rest, I probably shouldn’t repeat here. But alas, we are woman and the game then became how to get around the officers that were behaving badly!

The other thing that I discovered this weekend is that all these geese that fly in here every fall, and there are a ton of them, have such an amazing mating story. When they mate they mate for life!!!! Isn’t that awesome? They mate on water, then come back to the same place they were born every single year. However, what is still up in the air is which place do they go? Where the male was born or the female?

My other Valentines Day weekend story is one that melts my heart. My sweet husband was speaking to someone that is fairly prominent in Bend’s social circles the other day and after all the perfunctory topics and questions were out of the way the man asked him how I was and if we were still married. Kevin responded, “they can take everything I own in my life, but they will never take my wife away from me.” Melted my heart. I have always known that God blessed me the day I met that man but he just keeps reminding me every single day just how blessed I am. And by the way husband, I feel the exact same way, my Valentine for life!

Last, while I was sitting in visiting finishing up a morning visit with a great friend, I looked up and who was walking through the door completely unannounced is one of my beautiful daughters! On her way from LA to Portland her plane landed in San Francisco, broke down and she had a 8 hour lay over until she could get on her flight so she rented a car, bought some shoes that they would let her in with, and here she was! So awesome!

Okay that’s my new take on Valentines Day. My last thought is that in watching TV the morning of Valentines Day it seems like everything was geared to what if you forgot Valentines Day and needed to pull something together really quick? Shouldn’t Valentines Day be every day if your in love? I don’t know maybe I have to much time on my hands:) Or maybe I am madly in love:)

This is such an exciting week!

Kevin is coming home and no one is more excited than I am except maybe our cute grandboy London……who wrote me my very first EVER letter and told me that Papa was coming home to the big red house and he himself gets to spend 2 days with him. The cutest letter I have ever ever gotten in my whole entire life (sorry husband:). That being said I thought I would offer a few words of advice to help all of our friends and family members in the adjustment period Kevin will likely go through upon his arrival. Hopefully, this will provide some insight while giving you information that will make this transition a smooth one.

Try to avoid large crowds and long lines in particular. Kevin will get into any line and stand complacently for hours. DO NOT under any circumstances, allow him to go shopping without a shopping list where he will, in all liklihood, have everything neatly written down in order or departments in the store with a small box checked next to it. Arrange for Safeway or Albertsons to assign him a number and have him wait outside until they have his order filled and in a cart. He can then bag everything himself and he will probably want to walk home with it all slung over his shoulder.

Occasionally walk through our house when he is home with a huge bunch of keys that are on the end of a chain and keep shaking them so he knows someone with some authority is close by. If you could just yell some ethnic phraises and/or some jibberish (preferably in Spanish) while your shaking your keys that would be really helpful.

Make sure he is in bed by 11:00pm, and around midnight if someone could go over to the house and shine a really bright flashlight through the bedroom window directly in his eyes and make sure you have a squawking walkie talkie turned up as loud as it can go while your doing this that would be great. He probably won’t really be able to settle down to some peaceful sleep until all of that happens. Then if you could just go back over and do that again at 2:00am and 4:00am that would be really great! Make sure that if you do this and can’t see skin that you bang on the window as loud as you can to make sure he is in fact in bed and that he is alive. This whole process may sound strange but trust me the Federal Government is the one that devised it so it must be something that is super great and serves some purpose in life.

If you get to have a meal with him, which I am sure you will, try to ignore him if you see him quietly pull any old plastic bag out of his pocket silently and starts to fill it with sugar or tries to wrap all of his food in a napkin and puts it in his pocket all the while continuing to eat as if nothing happened or is going on. This can be so embarrasing in restaurants particularly.

After work you may notice that he flies into the house and grabs a folding chair or any chair and places it directly in front of the tv with his shirt or coat thrown over it to reserve his spot for a later tv program he may want to watch, or you may notice that around 4:00pm he may drop whatever he is doing and run to the bedroom where you will find him standing quietly by his bed. If this occurs just yell as loud as you can “count clear” and he will snap out of it and come rejoin you in whatever he was doing before.

You may notice that he will go through a period of time where he may be perplexed when receiving mail and attempting to open it. You may need to take it from him, open the envelope be slitting the top of it, tear whatever is inside of it in two and then put it back in the envelope and staple the crap out of it so he can then properly open it.

If he is outside the best way to get him to come in is to yell out the door “RECALL FOR COUNT” or if you simply want him to come for dinner just yell “MAINLINE”. If he wanders through the house at night, tell him that a “BED BOOK COUNT” could occur at any moment and to get back to his room, and if he really gets out of line, tell him your going to call a “HACK” to give him a “SHOT” and then take him to the “SHU” and you’ll be amazed at how fast he gets with the program because if he goes to the “SHU” he could lose “GOOD TIME”.

Last he may prefer to store all of his food and clothing, and even toiletries is one single small box or locker, probably under his bed, and do his laundry by throwing ALL of his dirty clothes in a mesh bag, which he in turn will throw in the washing machine, put it on a light wash that won’t take more than 1/2 an hour to wash and then place that same bag with the clothes still in it in the drier to dry. That being said I would advise you NEVER to ask Kevin to do your laundry.

Last, friends…you know who you are, do not let him have more than 1/2 small glass of wine when he first gets home because……..well just because……I am not sure what will happen:) Other than that he will hopefully have a super smooth transition back into life as he once knew it. And your all there to help so I am super happy about that!

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.

 

 

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