I Spent Five Years In Jail

Eight years ago I walked out of jail for the last time.

I had an infant at home and I looked forward to the challenges and the excitement that lay ahead. Because I was prematurely put on bed rest before having Stevie, I made the decision to go back to work long enough to work out a two week notice. Mostly because that’s how I roll, but also because I needed closure that could only be brought about by a last day. Still I knew a part of me would miss the place. For five years I roamed the halls – walkie-talkie in hand – amongst the crazy people.

The daily unknown.

The clanging of the metal bars as I entered the secured area.

And most of all THE CRAZY.

Have I ever mentioned how CRAZY jail is? The inmates. The employees. All of it. Every single bit of it was crazy. Fights broke out. Grown men cried. Grown women started fights over something as simple as a biscuit. I saw blood. And death. There were shakedowns. And uprisings. There were bets on the gender of my unborn baby (2 packs of ramen noodles said it was a boy!), movies on the weekends, haircuts on Mondays, and commissary one day a week. I saw grown men confined to a stokes basket in the booking department because they were a whole new brand of crazy. Kitchen trustees paused their daily push-ups in the kitchen floor long enough to stir the beans. Mothers called to inquire about the treatment of their angels. Girlfriends showed up to visit, only to find out there was also a wife.

Like I said. Crazy.

As you might imagine, I fit in perfectly there for five years.

Now, um, I’m not so sure. You know, because I am a refined stay-at-home-self-proclaimed-princess.

I haven’t made mention of it yet here on the blog, but last Tuesday? Um, last Tuesday, I was there all over again.

As I approached the counter, I was assigned a number. That number would be my number, and for the remainder of my time there, I would be known simply, by that number.

It was hot and muggy. Rows and rows of people glared at me.

Anxious people were all around me.

All of them waiting.

Waiting to hear their number called signaling their time is done.

All of them thinking there are few places worse than where they are right now. And I would have to say I completely agree with them.

I take a seat and I quickly survey the room.

It is there.

The crazy.

In all of its unfound glory, it is there.

The wringing of hands.

The nervousness.

Even I, myself am jittery.

I hear people pleading.

One man is pleading about paperwork and I shake my head hoping against all hope that it doesn’t come to that for me. The pleading does not stop. It gets on my nerve because I know that I am stuck here. Powerless.

I look up to see a man having his picture taken. He has a scowl on his face and I can surely understand why. This place stinks and these folks couldn’t care less how your picture turns out. They are here to do a job. Period. Each person is but another number.

Each and every individual approaches the door with fear and apprehension because they are trying to come to terms with the fact that short of a miracle, they will most likely be here awhile. Many of them wonder if they’ll make it out alive. They are skeptical.

And they have reason to be.

There are crazy people here.

Crazy people with lots of attitude.

Scores to settle.

I am bored. Bored of being packed in here like a sardine. Bored of the time I am wasting because after all I do not belong here. I am here because they said I had to be.

I am not crazy, yet I am here amongst the crazy.

It is hot.

Did I mention it was hot? So hot, in fact, a bead of sweat dropped from my brow. I quickly wipe it and attempt to stay focused. I keep to myself thinking it might make things easier for me. I do not make eye contact with anyone. I do not want to look crazy in the eye. I have enough crazy at my own place. Plus, you never know when one of these jokers might snap. They arrived here long before I did, so their crazy meters are off the charts. I see all walks of life. Each with a different story. All of them wishing they were somewhere else.

Anywhere but this hot, cramped, crazy place.

I’m the new girl in town. If there is a seat I will get one. If not, I will stand. That’s just the way the pecking order works in a place like this. I focus on the flashing light. I wonder when my time will come. When the light will flash with my number. The number they gave me when I arrived. I have not forgotten the number. I will NOT forget the number. The number is mine and mine only.

Must stay focused.

Water.

I need water.

My mouth is parched. My throat is dry. I break out in a sweat. I wonder if I’ll ever get out of this place. I wonder if I’ll still be here at lunch time. I can’t imagine the thought, but in this place anything is possible. I’m at their mercy. The mercy of these people who say I must. be. here. at this time.

I see more hand wringing.

More attitude.

I squirm in my chair and pray that it will be over soon.

I’ve had all the crazy I can handle.

And finally, just before noon, my number is called.

I step to the window, receive my walking papers, and get released from jail the D. M. V. just before lunchtime.

Whew. For a minute I wondered if I’d make it out alive.

Try to keep yourself out of jail AND the D.M.V.

Happy Thursday, y’all!

(Originally posted in 2010, this one was pulled from the archives.)

Twenty Years

In approximately five weeks, McDaddy and I are scheduled to attend our twentieth reunion.

It doesn’t seem possible that we’ve been out of school for twenty L-O-N-G years. That means that this girl is almost forty. Not that there’s anything wrong with being forty, because age is just a number.

Mostly.

I can’t help but think about how my life has changed over the past twenty years.

1992

I was a senior in high school. I had just recovered from mandibular surgery (broken jaws), and as a result I lost tons of weight because my jaws were wired shut for six weeks.

I was having troublewith Trigonometry (no big surprise there!) and I was hot on McDaddy’s trail. We had been good friends for three years and I’m gonna admit something here on the blog that I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned.

I was actually after his best friend.

Crazy. For sure.

I was applying to college and wondering where the next four years would take me. McDaddyleft for bootcamp shortly after graduation and so I spent that summer listening to Mariah Carey sing, “I’ll Be There” and counting the days until Boot Camp and Tech School would be over.

2002

We moved into our current house in January of 2002. In March, we found out that we were expecting our first child. I was working at the jail, and spent most of my days scheduling contact visits and parole meetings. Not one to embrace change, I often wondered what it would be like when the time came to trade in my walkie-talkie for a baby monitor. The nursery was taking shape and my blood pressure was off the hook.

At 32 weeks I was put on bed-rest and I lasted about three days before convincing myself I was going stir-freakin-crazy. Four weeks later, an eight pound baby boy was extracted from my body and in an instant I was a changed person.

2012

As I sit on my couch watching American Idol composing this blog post, I look at that picture up there and wonder how in the heck my sweet boy survived with me as a mama. I was over-protective, over-bearing and high strung.

Bless his heart.

It’s a small miracle that he can make a decision for himself.

As for that girl up there?

She is so different from the one that sits here today.

The one sitting here today is a Jail Counselor turned PTA fund-raising extraordinaire. She is loud, crazy, and opinionated. And no big surprise, she is still over-protective, over-bearing, and high-strung. Oh, and don’t forget that she loves to laugh.

She is a stay at home mom who rarely stays at home.

While shehas no idea what the next twenty years will bring, she plansto live every day to its fullest.

Andshe considers it a privilege to bedoing it alongside these three beautiful people.

 

Everyday Is Payday

Before we got pregnant (and by we, I totally mean ME, except that it was a decision we made together),McDaddy and Idecided that I would quit work once our baby was born. It was an easy decision, still, I knew it would take some getting used to.

When Iworked at the jail, I sharedan office (in a large cinder block room with a really comfortable swivel desk chair) with three co-workers that I liked very much. I considered them some of my closest friends, and I knew they had my back. We enjoyed laughs and jokes and even prank calls to my granny pretending to be calling on behalf of the Republican National Convention, just for fun. (I know it sounds bad, but it was all in fun, and you just have to know my granny).

We celebrated milestones. And did lunch. We shared recipes. And met after work for dinner on occasion. We laughed more than we should have at things we shouldn’t have. And we were the dream team.

I enjoyed my job and my co-workers. And there are days that I miss them very much.

Still, I knew that staying home with my baby was the most important thing that I would ever do.

When I cleaned out my desk, I cried like a baby. In my seven years there, I think I kept every single piece of paper that ever came across my desk. My files were neat and orderly, and they werefiled by last name and then by date. I was a meticulous record keeper and my desk was rarely ever cluttered. I had a Longaberger address basket and a picture of McDaddy (in a plastic frame of course) on my desk. Our pens had to be accounted for and I used the same pen every single day.

I can remember the exact location of every single thing on my desk. And there are days that I miss it.

There are days that I miss getting up and getting dressed to go to work. I miss the adult conversation, and the laughs that we shared almost hourly in that crazy place. I miss planning where and what we would eat for lunch, and I miss carrying a walkie-talkie. I miss punching a time-clock, and I miss the clipboard that often held more papers than it was supposed to.

I miss being paged on the intercom, and I miss the clanging of the light blue metal bars as I walked through the secured area.I miss scheduling contact visits and I miss the rolling file cabinets in the booking department. I miss getting paid on the 15th and 30th of each month, and I miss the huge gold keys used to open up the tower doors. I miss knowing the details of the criminal activity in our little town. (Crazy, I know.) And I miss having a mailbox. Still, I know I am where I am supposed to be.

I don’t punch a time-clock, but I am on duty 24/7.

The only meticulous records I keep are the ones involving medical bills.

My kitchen counter is rarely neat and orderly, but it is the hub of our living area.

I do not miss getting up early because I still do. Only instead of getting dressed for work, I’m getting two boys dressed and out the door for school each day.

I don’t get paged onan intercom, but I get paged often to right the wrongs of a brother scorned.

There are no rolling file cabinets in our home but the boys get on a roll reading books.

And that clipboard that I carried? Now, it’s stacked with drawings of Lego Star Wars and Sonic the Hedgehog.

And even though there are daysthat I miss the job, the paycheck, the adult interaction, and the crazy, I know this is the most important thing I will ever do.

I am a stay-at-home-mom who rarely stays at home. I don’t receive a paycheck, but everyday is payday.

My Time In Jail

I spent six years in jail.

I just love saying that.

In addition to thefive years I was actually employed there, I spent my senior year of college as an intern there. I was anaive twenty-something who knew nothing about street lingo or being hustled, andI thought P.C. meant politically correct. I hadn’t been behind bars more than thirty minutes when I was flashed for the first time ever in my life.

It was an awkward moment for me, but over time I became used to inmates showingtheir um, business, because really, what else do they have to do?

A mere thirty minutes later, Isat in on a suicide attempt interview. When asked how long the inmate had hung in his cell, he replied, “Apparently not long enough.”

Craziness.

I traversed the halls of the jail everyday notknowing what I might see or hear. I attended a defense tactics class and I was ready for whatever would come my way. Or at least I thought I was. As you can imagine me and my dramatic self had a big time of it in jail. Thehollerin’ andcomplaining and craziness took some getting used to, but after a short time, I was all up in the business of the jail and it was nothing more than a job.

A crazy, exciting job.

As I was traversing the halls of Facebook the other day, I chuckled as I thought about the hollerin’, complainingand craziness that goes on over there, too.

There are some striking similarities between theFacebook and the jail.

1. Complaints are rampant.

2. Peopleyou barely know are all of a suddenconsidered ‘friends’.

3. Once you check in, people are all up in your business.

4. The count fluctuates and grows daily.

5.People disappear and you have no idea where they went.

6. People are wanderingin and out all hours of the night.

7. Games are played to pass the time.

8. Hours and hours are wasted away there.

9. Gossip travels like wild-fire.

10. Everyone hasan opinion and if you stick around long enough they will voice it.

11. People are constantly watching the news feed to see if their face ends up there.

12. Some profile pictures are better than others.

13. You gotta keep a close eye on your account because there are lots of hands involved.

14. Lots and lots and lots of chatting.

15. Lots and lots and lots of smack.

16. Sometimes you run into someone you haven’t seen for ages.

17. Messages are sometimes sent on the sly.

18. People you may know might be there the same time as you.

19. Some requests are met with laughter and some requests are met with dread.

20. You never know what you might read on the walls.

21. Sometimes people tell a lot more than you want to hear. And sometimes they tell you just enough to spark your curiosity.

22. There are a few people you NEVER hear from making you check every now and again to make sure they are still there.

23. And then there are all the others…

See, I told you so.

Happy Friday y’all!

I Spent Five Years In Jail

Eight years ago I walked out of jail for the last time.

I had an infant at home and I looked forward to the challenges and the excitement that lay ahead. Because Iwas prematurelyput on bedrest beforehaving Stevie, I made the decision to go backto work long enoughto work out a two week notice. Mostly because that’s how I roll, but also because I needed closure that could only be brought about by a last day.Still I knew a part of me would miss the place. Forfive years I roamed the halls – walkie-talkie in hand – amongst the crazy people.

The daily unknown.

The clanging of the metal bars as I entered the secured area.

And most of all THE CRAZY.

Have I ever mentioned how CRAZY jail is? The inmates. The employees. All of it. Every single bit of it was crazy. Fights broke out. Grown men cried. Grown women started fights over something as simple as a biscuit.I saw blood. And death. There were shakedowns. And uprisings. There were bets on the gender of my unborn baby (2 packs of ramen noodles said it was a boy!), movies on the weekends, haircuts on Mondays, and commissary one day a week. I saw grown men confined to a stokes basket in the booking deparment because they were a whole new brand of crazy. Kitchen trustees paused their daily push-ups in the kitchen floor long enough to stir the beans.Mothers called to inquire about the treatment of their angels. Girlfriends showed up to visit, only to find out there was also a wife.

Like I said. Crazy.

As you might imagine,I fit in perfectlythere for five years.

Now, um, I’m not so sure.You know, because I am a refined stay-at-home-self-proclaimed-princess.

I haven’t made mention of it yet here on the blog, but last Tuesday? Um,last Tuesday, I was there all over again.

As I approached the counter, I was assigned a number. That number would be my number, and for the remainder of my time there, I would be known simply,by that number.

It was hot and muggy. Rows and rows of people glared at me.

Anxious people were all around me.

All of them waiting.

Waiting to hear their number called signalling their time is done.

All of them thinking there are few places worse than where they are right now. And I would have to say I completely agree with them.

I take a seat andIquickly surveythe room.

It is there.

The crazy.

In all of its unfound glory, it is there.

The wringing of hands.

The nervousness.

Even I, myself am jittery.

I hear people pleading.

One manis pleading aboutpaperwork and I shake my head hoping against all hope that it doesn’t come to that for me. The pleading does not stop. It gets on my nerve because Iknow I amstuck here. Powerless.

I look up to see a man having his picture taken. He has a scowl on his face and I can surely understand why.This place stinks and these folks couldn’t care less how your picture turns out. They are here to do a job. Period. Each person isbut another number.

Each and everyindividual approaches the door with fear and apprehension because they aretrying to come to terms with the fact that short of a miracle, they will most likely be here awhile. Many of them wonder if they’ll make it out alive. They are skeptical.

And they have reason to be.

There are crazy people here.

Crazy people with lots of attitude.

Scores to settle.

I am bored. Bored of being packed in here like a sardine. Bored of the time I am wasting because after all I do not belong here. I am here because they said I had to be.

I am not crazy, yet I am here amongst the crazy.

It is hot.

Did I mention it was hot?So hot in fact, abead of sweat dropped from my brow. I quickly wipe it and attempt to stay focused. I keep to myself thinking it might make things easier for me. I do notmake eye contact with anyone.I do not want to look crazy in the eye. I have enough crazy at my own place. Plus, you never know when one of thesejokers might snap. They arrived here long before I did, so their crazy meters are off the charts. I see all walks of life. Each with a different story. All of them wishing they were somewhere else.

Anywhere but this hot, cramped,crazy place.

I’m the new girl in town. If there is a seat I will get one. If not, I will stand. That’s just the way the pecking order works in a place like this. I focus on the flashing light. I wonder when my time will come. When the light will flash with my number. The number they gave me when I arrived. I have not forgotten the number. I will NOT forget the number. The number ismine and mine only.

Must stay focused.

Water.

I need water.

My mouth is parched. My throat is dry. I break out in a sweat. I wonder if I’ll ever get out of this place. I wonder if I’ll still be here at lunch time. I can’t imagine the thought, but in this place anything is possible. I’m at their mercy. The mercy of these people who say I must. be. here. at this time.

I see more hand wringing.

More attitude.

I squirm in my chair and pray that it will be over soon.

I’ve had all the crazy I can handle.

And finally, just before noon, my number is called.

I step to the window, receive my walking papers, and get releasedfrom jail the D. M. V. just before lunchtime.

Whew. For a minute I wondered if I’d make it out alive.

Try to keep yourself out of jail AND the D.M.V.

Enjoy your weekend, y’all.