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METRO TRANSITIONAL CENTER

December 2005 to August 2006

The prison system did what it does best - just as I'd gotten comfortable in the honor dorms at Alto and on the fire department, I was awoken at 3 a.m. one random morning and told to pack up.  For security reasons, no one gives you details until they absolutely have to.  In this case, given how much I'd been told I would never serve all of my time, my heart really felt like I was going home and I just hadn't received a parole notice.

Imagine my heartbreak when I found out I was being taken away from the fire department, which was my sanity and something I cared passionately about, to go start over at the transitional center.  The weight of this disappointment sat with me a long, long time.

Going back to the Transitional Center at Metro State Prison was like going back to Diagnostics again.  Back in the dreaded jumpsuit, back to limited movement, back to officers that really hated their job, hated their life, and hated us.  The first stage of the Transitional Center rivals Rice Street Jail in terms of level of misery.

But what I didn't know is that lightening would strike twice in one incarceration.  The goal of the TC is to transition an inmate back into the real world.  Clearly it's set up for long term inmates, but it was important for my well-being as well.  The TC is still incarceration, it's still prison.  So basically, I lived in prison by night, and got to leave for work by day.  There was no freedom, very little luxury.  Every move was watched and accounted for.

I was expecting to end up with the same mundane job as everyone else - working as a clerk at Value Village (thrift store) or maybe an entry level clerk somewhere.  But instead, I was the first inmate to work for the Governor while incarcerated in the State of Georgia.  I left the TC every morning on a bus, and took Marta to the State Capitol downtown.  I worked as the absolute most basic clerk possible, sorting and entering all of the Governor's mail into the system for the legislative aids.  It paid $6/hour, most of which went to the State to pay for my time at the TC.

But the blessings that came from that experience are still with me.

Also while at the TC, I earned the privilege of going to my apartment on the weekends. So for the last few months of my sentence, I truly did attempt to transition smoothly back to my life. 

I have to admit, reading through this again, what a mundane life.  This is by far the longest portion of the journal because I was here the longest.  Also, I had access to the internet (illegally, in very small doses), so I was able to type out entries almost every day that I was at work.  You'll find the bulk of them to be bullet-style journaling.  And you'll find me repeating some things over and over because one day was just like the next.  But I'm grateful for it, because now I have a nice reminder of some really important moments that I can go back and expand on some day.

I wish I could explain it, and one day I will find the words, but reading back through this 12 years later, so much of prison life seems petty.  AND IT WAS.  The transition center was especially interesting.  The officers were just as childish as the inmates.  It's like everyone was stunted in their development and how to deal with other humans.  I read this stuff, and it seems so petty, but when you're living in it day after day, it's stressful as hell.

Monday, November 14, 2005

 

 

Big News from Kelly:

Hey everyone,

 

HUGE NEWS!!!

 

For starters there is a new blog posted and it has some good info in it. Some of it is about a decision Andi was trying to make....However, some things have transpired in the last day that were completely unexpected.

 

ANDI IS NO LONGER AT ALTO...SHE IS AT THE HALFWAY HOUSE.!!! As Andi says in her blog, the Halfway House is designed to assist inmates who meet certain critiria to begin building a life prior to exiting the pinal system. The inmate wears civilian clothes, takes public transportation to and from and normal job and can be allowed to go to their home anywhere from 6 to 12 hours on the weekends....if such leave is granted.

 

All of this is very significant for a few reasons...

1. Due to the overturn of the 90% law, Andi should, for all intents and purposes, not be considered for parole until well past her "max out" release date. However, the prison system is very over crowded.

2. According to the prison counselor, inmates must serve at least 1 year of their sentence before being considered for the Halfway House. Andi was selected after only serving 8 months.

3. ...and best of all.....The Halfway House program is designed as a 6 month program. Once an inmate is entered into the program they should be leaving/paroled by or within 6 months. Ladies and Gentlemen, do the math. My math says May at the latest. That's right Nikki, Nan might make it after all!!!!!

 

Everyone, currently I have very little information on Andi's current stituation. I will update as soon as I hear anything new, daily even, if I receive it as such. I can tell you she, of course, has a new address and any mail that was sent to Alto prior to her leaving will be forwarded to her, though it could take up to 30 days. I can also tell you that Andi has to go through an inprocessing and classification phase that lasts about 30 days. After that she should begin her job and the first steps to getting her life back.

 

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Sunday, November 27, 2005

 

 Email Update from Mike:

Well....I got to see Andi in her new home....it was startlingly different than Alto (Lee Arrendale in terms of security....no fences...no razor wire....no locked doors....just a guard station at the door to sign in and proceed to the meeting area which is actually their cafeteria....if an inmate wanted to they could bolt past the gaurds to freedom (which 3 did this past week) but that is foolish because being a transitional facility means they are in the final step of their incarceration...

 

Andi looked great...her hair is longer than I remember seeing it...and because they only get 2 meals on weekends (because the cafeteria is tied up with visitation) she is losing weight....she was wearing a stylish (not) tan one piece suit and it did not say State Prison on her back....first time in many months...

 

Acclimation to this facility is going well but still slow...she has cramped quarters and she misses the outside days of the firehouse....but in a few weeks she will hopefully be allowed to begin her job search effort which means wearing her own clothes 24/7..and trips via Marta to go to interviews....unfortunately she can only go on 2 interviews per week

 

That brings me to a request....to her Atlanta based friends....If you know anyone in the range of Marta that has hiring power that may have a position available...if an entry level one like receptionist or whatever...please e-mail me.  We have to do it secretly but if we can "prearrange" a job so that she can start working right away (mid December) then it could shorten her time there!!!  And the business will receive tax incentives to participate!!!

 

OK...so she doesn't get lunch on weekends so I brought plenty of cash to machine feed her....she ate a fair amount!!  OK...here is the kicker....until she's working she only gets $5 per week.  But she already learned a trick!!  She loosened the padded sole in the bottom of her sneakers prior to my arrival and while sitting in the visitation area she managed to slide about $20 into her sneakers (small bills...$1 and $5) when she removes her sneakers for inspection they will be able to see them...so she should be able to increase her phone calls!!!!

 

Anyway...I will cut this short but keep the letters coming....she will have little time to write in the short term because she's in "class" a lot but she loves getting them!!

 

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Public Blog   11/11/05  Friday

 

And so once again I’ve been ripped out of the warm, comfortable misery that is prison. Just as I’d gotten all comfortable and cozy in the Honor dorm, I was transferred to Metro Transitional Center. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know it’s a good thing overall, but right now, I am not amused. These next 30 days (at least) are going to be like prison for real.

  

I was really tired of Shirley as a roommate, tired of always having the religion shoved down my throat, and the overall negative attitude I was constantly surrounded with. On the other hand, Chief had a talk with us on Tuesday saying she turned down the Regional Chief position because she wanted to stick it out with us. Also, she had a two-hour talk with Deputy Warden Kennedy and got a lot of our issues resolved. Furthermore, one of her instructors from the Fire Academy visited Tuesday and said he’d speak to Governor Perdue to see if he could get the GDC moving on testing us, as apparently he’s good friends with the Governor.

 

The Fire Academy has really been looking forward to working with the first all-female FD. So things were looking up. Also, I had good friends in the Honor dorm. I hung out with Tenli and Whitney more than anyone. Tenli and I spent most evenings watching “Friends”. So yeah, I never saw it coming. Ms. Hightower came in at 3am to wake me up. Since I was disoriented, I thought it was 4:45am and she was waking me up for work. But she said I was on her transfer list. I figured I was going to the Center, but wasn’t 100% sure. So I had to pack up in 30 minutes. I had just gone to store the day prior and had to leave about $25 worth of store behind. There were four of us from LASP going.

 

It was a very long day, as are all transfers in the prison system. We had to do full inventory of everything in our possession. That took forever. We had a nasty pack-out for breakfast (two bologna and “cheese” sandwiches and an apple). We got to lay out our blankets and pillows on the benches and sleep until 6:30am, but of course I was too restless to sleep. I got to talking to Tonja who is very similar to me in that she has never been to prison and had a whole “regular” life before this, and it’s a white collar crime. The biggest difference between us is she intentionally took money…and it was over $216,000 worth.

 

Because of the amount, and the fact that they are sure she stashed it somewhere, they refused to give her First Offender, and the judge sentenced her to prison. They wanted 10 years, but they bargained down to 4 years. Oddly enough, she also was told she wouldn’t do more than 6-8 months. Ha! So they shackled us and left for Metro. Our day was very reminiscent of that first day at diagnostics. See, the really hard part about coming here is the HUGE change. Lee Arrendale is the best and most relaxed of the three women’s prisons. Metro is probably the strictest and requires that you maintain military bearing. So you have to ask permission to wipe your butt, etc. Needless to say it’s taking a lot of time to get used to it again.

 

We got yelled at and embarrassed a lot at in-take yesterday. Trying to think on my feet with only a few hours of sleep and not having had my blood pressure medication was almost as difficault as Diagnostics. But here there’s no CERT team, no strip search, etc. Now, having heard about this place, everyone always talks about how easy it is to mess up and get in trouble here. My theory was, just do what you’re supposed to and you should be fine. That’s still true, but there are so many tiny things you can get in trouble for; like, if you leave your room without your ID.

 

We have infractions, which you get for stuff like that, and most of the time there’s no punishment for the small stuff. For repeated actions or something kind of big, you get extra kitchen or other duties. For major stuff, you get a DR, then you go to DR court and they decide your punishment. The thing with infractions is that while you may not get punished, the classification board heavily considers them. That’s 30 days from now, so I’m in the orientation phase until then. This is like the test period. Apparently classification is serious and includes an interview and a test on the rule book. Anyway, you know me and my good girl complex. I hate getting into trouble. It’s very hard to get out of here without an infraction, but I’m sure going to try.

 

Anyway, everyone starts in C building. There are about 100 women here. We wear khaki-colored jumpsuits. Just like Diagnostics, but those were white with State Prisoner on the back. We’ll have a detail while here – kitchen, maintenance, buffing, etc. – in addition to regular rotation of duties. Also, there are lots of classes and groups we’re required to go to. Every weekday morning, we are required to be up, dressed and ready by 5am. We go to chow (in our building), then it’s mandatory to go on a Wellness Walk at 6:30am and exercise to a tape. (Insert major eye roll here) The Wellness “track” is tiny, maybe 1600sqft.

 

We are in four-man rooms. I got really lucky for the most part, I have good roommates. One just got here Tuesday so we’ll be going through all of it together. We are the unemployed, so once we get money on our books, we are allowed $5 a week for transportation and incidentals (T&I). That pays for vending machine stuff and phone calls. There’s no store, so all our incidentals have to be sent in from someone. Needless to say, I’ll be losing weight not having access to food like I used to. Oh, and because we are no longer behind razor wire, we have count time like every two hours.

 

One of the hardest things to get used to is the bathroom. It’s like college. There are 2 bathrooms for 100 women. It’s way down at the end of the hall. And you keep your toilet paper in your locker and take your own down there with you. After you are classified, you move on to Phase 1. When you get a steady job, you move to B building and start wearing regular clothes. They are 3-man rooms. It’s open dorm – it looks like office cubicles. You get to earn 6-hour passes to go home if you qualify, and you can get up to $20 a week while you are job searching, and up to $35 a week when you are employed. At that time you start buying all your own incidentals and laundry.

 

Also, when you start working they deduct 30% of your earnings to pay for your room and board. Sixty days after you start Phase II, you move into A building and start Phase III, which focuses on your release plans. I was excited to see regular pay phones which means as soon as I get money, I can call Mike and Kelly. It’s still very frustrating that I couldn’t call anyone collect to let them know I’ve been transferred. So anyway, the bright spot of my day was I saw my good friend Michele while we were doing a tour. She lives in B building. Mary is over there, also.

 

We finally got to the building at 3:30pm. We were exhausted. We had to see the nurse, get our meds, put our locker together, eat dinner, and then attend a mandatory employment meeting for two hours. I was so exhausted and I couldn’t go to bed until almost 11pm. By the end of the day, if they’d told me I could go back to my same bed and FD at Alto, I would’ve hightailed it out of here.

11/17/05  Thursday  9:00pm

 

Holy Hot Heaps of Feces, Batman!

 

Yeah, um…I’m in the midst of another update, but we interrupt this regularly scheduled program to bring you this rather…er…juicy story. Just when I think I’ve gotten into the most sophisticated program in the system, I’m ripped back to reality. This might take the (urine) cake on any of my incarceration stories so far. I assumed when you live in a center with 100 women who are supposed to be going out into the world and getting a job, they’d be slightly more civilized than the animals in Fulton County to say the least. Turns out, this isn’t necessarily the case.

 

Before I get into everything that’s been going on here, let me give the details of the main incident at hand. Yesterday, I had just settled into my bed around 2pm for a much needed unauthorized nap. I was suddenly awoken to the officer on duty squawking over the intercom that the residents in Hall 3 better get to the bathroom and get it cleaned up. I just assumed whoever had that duty was slacking on keeping it clean during the day. Rita and I reluctantly drag ourselves out to the control booth to get chemicals and volunteer ourselves since no one else would.

 

Well, imagine our surprise when we got back there to find sewage all over the place. So we assume girls put pads down one of the toilets again and it overflowed all over the floor. So the whole bathroom smelled horrendous. The offending toilet was easy to find. My roommate, Rita, and two other girls began cleaning (with rubber gloves on) while the others just gawked at us. Lt. Jenkins ordered the entire bathroom cleaned top to bottom. Once we finished with the problem toilet, we thought the rest would be routine. Instead, we discovered that the offender had spread the feces to two more stalls. Feces covered the toilet seats and the backs of the doors and walls to the stalls.

 

We had mistakenly assumed that the original cause was that someone had a stomach virus or something to cause such disaster. But it was now obvious this was on a whole other level. Either someone is truly mentally unstable, or someone was just very devious and did this on purpose. Once us brave souls cleaned it up (and longed for a shower!), the Lt. and Superintendent (The equivalent to the Warden) pulled the entire building into our dining hall. She was pissed! She said someone should’ve come forward regardless of what the case may be, but it’s too late for that. It was humiliating. She/they stood up there and screamed at us as a whole for over an hour, telling us how nasty and filthy we are.

 

As usual, all of us were being treated as though we were responsible for spreading feces around the bathroom. Long story short, she punished us all as a group as well. She put us on full restriction. This meant no phone calls, no television, no visitation, no passes to leave, 8pm curfew/light out, no smoke breaks, the whole works. Not just for a day or two…through the entire weekend – Wednesday through Sunday. This was really bad news, because people work really hard to earn those passes.

 

And for me, I lost my visitation from Mike and Kelly and couldn’t receive my package. The only thing we were allowed to do was clean, clean, clean. It truly was Diagnostics all over again. Ms. Jenkins lifted the restriction late Friday, but by then it was too late to arrange my visitation and package papers. The whole incident is behind us, but it was a clear reminder that I’ve got to keep my expectations in check. You can take a girl out of prison, but obviously you can’t always take the prison out of the girl.

 

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11/21/05  Monday

 

I’m having a blah day. Not only are my feminine hormones going through “that time”, the day just seemed fit to be blah. It’s 5:45pm and I can put on my headphones now so I am listening to “I’m Free” by Kenny Loggins in hopes it will pick me up. For the most part I’ve adjusted Okay. There’s just constant pressure on us here, at least for the first 30 days. Last night, I thought my patience paid off. Because I haven’t been able to receive my money yet, my phone calls have been limited to the few quarters my roommate has loaned me to give Kelly the urgent information. Reliable sources have passed on info about specific calling cards that work here.

 

Our pay phones are blocked to 800 numbers. So Kelly finally found a local number calling card and I got the information. It worked when I activated it. I was thrilled. But was very disappointed to find they truly blocked these phones from local calling card use. I still have to deposit 50 cents to use it. You talk about some major let down disappointment. I was crushed. I can still use the card to make long distance calls, like to mom, but otherwise it really doesn’t help at the moment. I’ll be okay once Kelly and Mike can finally visit and get money to me, which brings me to my next gripe.

 

We aren’t allowed visitation until our second weekend here. That would’ve been this last weekend for me. Getting my visitation is extra complicated because I have no immediate family, and I’ve got to send my visitation list through classification. But because of the previously mentioned feces incident, I couldn’t get visitation. Now, I may have done it for the very long Thanksgiving weekend. Ms. White is the strictest officer we have. None of us really have a problem with her because we pretty much follow the rules. But last week, she gave Rita, my roommate an infraction because she set one foot out in the hall while she was sweeping during count time. It was stupid and the officer really should’ve let it go.

 

But Rita was having one of these days and yelled back at her. So Ms. White was holding a grudge against Rita. Last night right after 5:45pm count, Ms. White barges in and announces she’s conducting locker searches. And she said it in such a way that she was making it known that we were paying dues. I thought I was going down like the Titanic, as they say in prison. I had two pieces of fish from dinner in my locker, wrapped in saran wrap. Yeah, she found it. She was not amused. She found state food in all four of our lockers – Bananas by the bunch in Rita and Deborah’s locker. Donna’s locker was just a complete mess. It’s easy to say I shouldn’t take such risks, but since we don’t have store, we truly starve in here.

 

*Note: Nothing happened. No warning or infractions for illegal Square State Fish in my locker; just Ms. White’s sharp verbal warning. Food will be stored in laundry net bag from here on out.

 

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11/26/05  Saturday

 

Something is very strange today. I’m on some sort of natural high. It’s happened just a handful of times that I can remember. Something has…well; I guess this stage of my incarceration has really shown me how much I’ve changed over the last 9 months. My first week or so here was pretty rough and torturous. I was miserable and kept wondering if I’d made the right decision in coming here. After all, this program is clearly not designed for someone like me. But too many signs have appeared this last week showing me that I am right where I’m supposed to be. I think I have realized I’ve got to make this program work for me. It’s an opportunity to show my strengths and overcome the many obstacles in front of me.

 

Just like this last week, my days have been sprinkled with many bumps and bruises, but for some reason, I’m coping better and producing more positive results than I have in a long time. I’ve just got this overall feeling I’m on the verge of really good things happening. Good things have been happening amongst the bumps and bruises, but they all seem to be tying together and paving the road for my future. I’ve really questioned lately whether or not I would’ve been afforded the luxury of this kind of clarity had I not been put through the wringer of the prison system. The combined experiences of intense therapy, letter/journal writing, meeting new people, adjusting to so many new, awful environments, enduring treatment likened to dog kennels, etc. has really put me in a different state both emotionally and mentally. I feel so much more open to my experience and possibilities than I have ever been.

 

Sometimes doors open up to us, but we get so caught up in our own drama that we miss them. Yeah, I was fortunate to get the wake up call with the Fire Department. But beyond that, I’m not really sure I have approached my sentence in the best way I could. You’d think after being incarcerated 9 months – half of my sentence – I’d learned to accept where I am. But I’ve just recently realized I’ve been in denial about being where I am. I’m so used to doing things my way, for myself, by myself…and I’ve still tried to do it that way the last 9 months. These last few weeks have felt a lot like a period of survival mode, and it’s given me time to approach things differently.

 

I’ve done a lot of soul searching, and turned my mind in a new direction. Instead of focusing on what I don’t have, where I could be or what I could be doing instead, I started looking for new sources of inspiration. Lo and behold, doors have opened. The majority of the population seems to go through life with no idea of what they truly wanted to do with their life. I am one of the rare individuals that have been given the daunting task of narrowing my options down. But this last week, I’ve really gotten to see that the same things of importance keep circling in my life. I’ve been shown that it was never about choosing or sacrificing one of my interests…instead, with some compromising and adjusting, everything blends together. These are the things that have remained/become very important to me:

 

1. Volunteer work

2. Being a Firefighter

3. Psychology Education

4. Writing

5.  Building my own businesses

6. Working with the prison system to produce better results, especially to bring in positive programs.

 

Before doors opened, I really thought I had to pick only one route and go with it. But being aggressive and involved as I am, I knew that just wasn’t an option. The doors that opened this week just showed me that it all sort of fits hand-in-hand. Lets see if I can break this down properly.

 

First and foremost, I am pursuing my career as a firefighter. It’s something I’m extremely passionate about. I’m so close to it. As soon as I’m out, $900 and 3 weeks will immediately be invested to the Fire Academy in Forsythe to get certified through the fast track course, assuming the stars align to make that happen. Hopefully there’s a job in one of the major cities waiting for me. I really feel this is meant for me. So after that decision was made, I recalled something that numerous professional firefighters have stressed to us. Professional, full-time firefighters work in 24hour shifts, 2 days a week. That leaves a lot of time to fill during the other days, say 3 days of the week.

 

Most have dual careers, their own business or other projects to fill their time. That’s too perfect for me. Now, in considering work in Psychology Education and working in the prison system, I assumed, like firefighting, I had to take an all or nothing approach. This is so not true. All of this was originally to say I met some really great people this week that showed me otherwise. As part of our orientation, we are required to attend a weekly HIV/STD class. I expected it to be the typical, dry “abstinence is the only option” speech that is so popular in southern institutions. Much to my surprise, our instructor, L’dia, was very unconventional and strived to bend the rules to bring us some real world stuff.

 

She talked more about empowering women then the safer side of sex. She knows these girls came from the streets and how they need to be talked to. It was very refreshing. Then this morning, I went to my first sketching and painting class. I got far more than I expected out of it. Zee, the volunteer from an inner-city church, runs the class. He’s 57, and started drawing at a young age; he got his Graphic Art degree in the 70s. He is a wonderful free spirit. He also brought his (very good-looking, intelligent, kind, warm-hearted) son, Andre. Andre is going to be teaching a creative writing class here soon. Anyway, true to the class description, we draw and paint. I showed him my only piece of work I have to show that I did at Alto. He was impressed and said I have an eye and the talent, I just need to refine my techniques, which is why I wanted to go to this class. We get our own sketchbook, and whatever we don’t finish in class, we’re supposed to finish on our own. What really struck me about the class is that we really talk about things while we work. About real life and “the system”. Zee is so driven to help put some positive things into the prison system, so that alone makes us kindred spirits. The class just left me feeling full of hope.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

 

Email from Mike's Christmas Visit with Andi:

Due to incredible volume of visitors and the fact that Kelly and I are not "family" we had to postpone our visitation until today.  I promised to maximize the time with her when she called me on Saturday so I arrived at 9:45 AM!!  When I saw her I smiled!!!  For the first time since she entered the system I saw her in "Street Clothes".  She had on a bright red T-shirt....jeans and her familiar black belt with a pair of stylish black boots that according to her memory I helped her pick out although I honestly don't rember them!!  The boots were actually not a wise choice because it prevented her from smuggling money back in....but since Kelly now has full visitation he can take it to her next week!!

 

Kelly arrived a short time later and we held down the table for the entire day (which was not compfy on thos round hard cafeteria style seats)....but we had a great conversation and she was very upbeat!!  Thecare package Kelly delivered on Saturday made her extremely happy....just to illustrate how we take the simple things for granted she talked in giddy tones about her "real" toothbrush....her goldbond powder and the fact within a short period time she will be able to reapply her blond highlights into the brown growth of hair that has added to her hair length in 10 months (her hair length is now down to her chest!!!).  Anyway...a very good day!!!

 

Final note ...since Kelly can visit weekly...she has added JP for visitation in January and Dawn Rice is penciled in for February....the only hitch is they have to approximately 30 days apart so it will need to be on the last weekend of each month....so please e-mail me your avalability so Kelly or I can coordinate the approval with her through the "system!!

 

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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

 

Email from Kelly:

Hey Everyone,

 

 My Gosh! It’s already the 10th of January! I exclaim this because Andi wanted me to tell everyone HAPPY NEW YEAR and that she hopes 2006 brings all of you everything you hope and dream for! Needless to say, I have missed my time que a bit.

 

 …to defer from my sloth-like qualities, I also want to inform all of you that Andi has just finished 8 PAGES of blog updates and I should have them soon. As soon as they arrive, I’ll crack open a beer on a Friday night and will not stop typing and drinking until every word is transposed……Promise………Now that’s how you spend a Friday! HA!

  

For the time being, Andi is interviewing now and has already been on one interview. She had a very enjoyable day out when she interviewed. She met up with Mike afterward (on the sly of course) to treat herself to fat ass Rib eye steak, fries, and salad with Blue cheese! She was on a very tight time schedule, so she had to scarf it down in 15 minutes, but it was heaven all the same…As we would say in the Army, “Eat it now, taste it later! Move out, Private!”

 

 The interview went alright, but was more for practice than anything. She has a line a really sweet opportunity in a much better location and area of responsibility if everything works out, as it seems it might. But….I’ll let her tell you all about it in her blog.

  

Again, Happy New Year to all of you, and a continued Thanks for your endless support………….ONLY 7 MORE MONTHS! …and Andi has commented quite a few times that time is passing quickly for her. : )

 

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Monday   12/12/05

 

I just can’t seem to get any rest here. This place keeps us on our toes and going all the time. I am completely exhausted. I frequently, very frequently, find myself frustrated here. But apparently the Buddhist practice of the last 9 months has really helped because I’ve learned how to acknowledge the frustration, feel it and move on. Tomorrow is a very big day. Tomorrow is the end of my torturous 30 days of orientation.

 

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Tuesday   12/13/05

 

See what I mean? That’s as much as I could get written on my “person time”. Anyway, It’s Tuesday, the big day now. I am at peace for the most part. I think my interview with the classification board is going to be okay. A few weeks ago, I was apprehensive and not so sure. But in my head, I am already classified. Once I’m classified, I am to immediately remove myself from these God-awful brown jumpsuits for good, and put on regular clothes. Unfortunately, my package containing my clothes is hung up, so it’ll be another week or two before I can get it. So hopefully my counselor is going to get me something to hold me over until I get my own clothes. Honestly, I’m not even worried about that. Just being classified and out of orientation will bee wonderful. Things are going okay here. This is a very hard program for me.

 

I’ve managed to make it all the way to classification without a single infraction, which is extremely rare. But it’s so easy to get in trouble. This morning, we had room floor inspections, since they put a coat of wax on the floor. My two roommates are in charge of buffing since they’ve done some time in prison, and don’t know anything about buffing. Apparently, Donna felt that the floor was shiny enough and no buffing was necessary. Also, the coat of wax is so thin, some times buffing just makes it worse. I am in no position to argue because it looked fine to me. Remember, all but 11 days of my sentence was spent either in county jail, where there is no such thing as buffing, and in the Honor dorm, where we had carpet. Our floor wasn’t good enough.

 

The CO gave full-room infractions to about 15 rooms for their floors. Ours wasn’t horrid, so we barely escaped an infraction. This place just wears you out and keeps you on edge from 4:30am to midnight. The rules are subject to change constantly and without notice. Our roommate, Rita, was moved to B building Friday, so now we’re vulnerable. New intakes come in today, so we’re sure to have a new roommate by 5pm. We’ve just got to hope for the best.

 

My spirits are high today, but I can see the long road ahead of me. I’ll be classified but unable to work or even look for a job until the first or second week in January. So we’ll be stuck in this building, which we never leave, since things are now shutting down. It’s just a lot to endure, and with the holidays on top of it…But, should all go well, Kelly, Mike, and JP will be visiting on Christmas Day. I am so blessed. Hopefully I’ll catch a break and get plenty of time to get caught up on letters and blog updates. But our “down time” is usually spent being ordered around by the long-term maintenance residents like we’re slaves.

 

As I said previously, this is my endurance phase. I am already tired from the previous 9 months, and sometimes I wonder where the strength, energy and positive attitude is going to come from to finish out this thing. I’ve tried to deep my optimistic Attitude and see everything as a challenge to overcome, but it’s getting harder, it seems, to endure. The big mainstay of this program is the incentives. It’s really hard to accept watching everyone around me go home every weekend to their families when I can’t because Kelly, Mike and others are my family, but they don’t qualify because they are not blood relatives.

 

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Tuesday  12/20/06

 

I’m hibernating today. Just feeling really withdrawn. Since the holidays are upon us, our groups and classes have slowed to a halt. We would be looking for a job any other time of the year. I shamelessly slept the day away today because the CO said she preferred that to keep us out of her hair.  I really don’t get much sleep at night since the newest roommate snores terribly. So you best believe I’ll sleep when I can get it.

 

I am most certainly tiring of being confined to small spaces with the same bad attitudes. My tolerance level with my roommates is starting to dip. Rita was definitely saving grace in this room. I talk a whole lot less than I use to, and I definitely limit my interaction. My really super good pal, Tenli, showed up unexpectedly last Tuesday. I started hanging out with her quite a bit just before I left Alto. She has helped to restore my faith in the human race again. Tenli is one of the few souls I’ve really related to in prison; she’s very smart, educated and well–traveled. It’s been a blast having her. 

 

She maxes out 13 days after I do, so we’ll be in it together for the long haul. I do have to say that despite the yuckiness I’ve endured in this transition, I’ve got a truly wonderful group of friends to trust and depend on. That’s very important because the women in this environment are far less trustworthy than they ever were in prison. My friend Audra, the one that reminds me so much of Shon, was a truly unexpected surprise. She’s a recovering addict - such a good girl with a good heart. Got wrapped up with the wrong crowd at a very young age (she’s now 30). She’s been to prison three times, once for drug-related crimes and twice for violating parole/probation with dirty urine. I’ve had the pleasure of many intimate conversations with her.

 

She’s starting to realize she’s been in denial all her life about her addiction. And of course that’s been the key to her “failures” every time she was released. She’s also never realized that she can’t keep going back to the same playground with the same people. I’ve been truly honored that people have opened themselves up to me and given me the deepest parts of themselves they’ve never given anyone else. I shouldn’t be surprised because the State doesn’t really provide anyone to give these people support. I truly enjoy the time I get to spend with Audra. She is one of the friendships I hope to keep after we’re gone from here. I know I can’t save her, but I really want to help her anyway I can. She’s got so much to offer.

 

She gave me the nicest compliment the other day. She’s really been working on her addiction and the way she lives her life, and our counselor is always reminding her that you are basically the company you keep. She told me the other day that she is grateful to have me for a friend, and she hoped we could always be friends. I’ve been getting lots of compliments lately on my attitude. I haven’t realized that I have been so encouraging of those around me. I subconsciously “coach” people I care about.

 

What made it so obvious was classification these last two weeks. A lot of these girls come in with very low self-esteem, and in this environment, the vultures are quick to point out weaknesses and discourage you. All my friends were obsessing and freaking out over classification, so I taught them how to overcome all that. Even as they were going before the classification board, I had them believing they were already classified. And it worked, because they all classified. We’re doing the same thing job-wise. We’re all employed already (in our minds). It helps me just as much as it helps them. : ) Believe me, it’s a struggle much of the time to stay positive in this atmosphere.

 

Tenli and I have decided to learn Latin over the next 8 months we have left. You know how I am about doing something constructive with my time. Tenli is the same way. We’ve had a rash of negativity rush through the Center. Another escape last week – that’s 5 in just over a month. Someone broke into the vending machine in B-Building and stole the food and money. They’ve been on restriction off and on all week and may not get visits or passes for the holiday weekend. Yes, one person ruins it for everyone. But for the holidays, the Superintendent removed everyone’s infractions for the week. Too bad I never get in trouble. I’ve also decided I’m going to hunt down the person who invented floor wax and buffing and torture him the same way these *@#! tile floors torture me. It’s a floor. We walk on it. Can’t we just leave it at that?!

Sunday  12/25/05

 

Well, I have finally arrived at my first, and last, Christmas incarcerated. I really wish I hadn’t been too exhausted to write last night because I was so high on love and had such a good spirit. Today, its still there, but its trying real hard to be a negative day. I’m fighting against it greatly. But yesterday was just spectacular. Kelly surprised me with a visit since he’d been approved as a significant other, and brought my package early. That just lifted my spirits because I only see Kelly and Mike once every 30 days. It was good to have contact with the outside world.

 

I, of course, cried at the end of the visit because I’m so overwhelmed by the love and support I receive from everyone. Ms. Ellis, our CO, noticed at the end of the visit that I’d been crying, and asked if I was OK. We ended up talking for over 45 minutes. Honestly, it’s the very first time in my entire sentence that I was able to connect on such a personal level with a CO. It really felt good having someone in blue truly care about me. She really is the most human of all the CO’s here. Her and one other officer I like are the only two CO’s, period, that even remotely treat us human.

 

Anyway, Ms. Ellis couldn’t fathom what I’d done to get here so I told her the story. She said if I’d been in almost any other state, I would’ve only gotten probation since this was my first offense. She was telling me about her father passing away last year and now her mother is sick. It was just a really nice, unexpected talk; very uplifting and positive in this environment. Also, the mean officers up front weren’t going to let me have my package since I had marked on the form that it would be delivered Monday. But Ms Ellis called up to the front and told them they better let me have my package. They didn’t even search through the box. Shoot, Ms. Ellis didn’t even strip-search me after my visit.

 

My package totally overwhelmed me. Kelly and Rae put so much time, effort and money into my package. Most of it was my essentials – toothbrush, shampoo, medications, soup, popcorn, etc. Those things alone turn your whole world around because I am finally using the stuff I like to use instead of the cheap prison brand. But my Christmas present from Kelly and Rae were my art supplies. And they didn’t just get me cheap Wal-Mart color pencils and stuff; they got me Prismacolor colored pencils. I got a huge deluxe 48-count tin of pencils. They’re so beautiful!

 

Audra and I sat in the empty classroom and sharpened all of them by hand and had such a good time. My spirits were just so darn high. I also spent quality time with Tenli, Brandi and Robin. They loved my portfolio and got a big kick out of my radio broadcasts. I finally got to talk to Mike late last night. We were both sad because we aren’t able to carry out our usual holiday tradition of Honeybaked ham and scalloped potatoes. He’s having those things alone, basically. Also, we were supposed to have been in St. Louis for the St. Louis/New Orleans game. At the time I’d called him, we should’ve been down on the Riverfront in a bar trying to remember our names and what address to tell the cab driver. So it was a little sad. But at least I’ll have Christmas with him and Kelly tomorrow.

 

Today was pretty much just another day to me, but it sure has been a struggle. And not because it’s Christmas, but because of this place and these people I live with:

 

-Got up at 5am to have breakfast with Audra. It was supposed to be pancakes…we had grits.

-Overbearing, controlling roommate wakes us up at 6am buffing our floors unnecessarily.

-Get up a 7am to clean bathrooms since it’s our rooms day. Seven very nasty stalls, toilets, and sinks to clean. And everyone had an attitude with us since they were trying to use the bathroom at the same time.

-Overbearing, controlling roommate tries to tell me how to clean.

-Try to call Kelly and Mom, but pay phone eats my change.

-Only have $5 bills, but machines won’t give me change.

-Overbearing, controlling roommate yells at me because she’s taking a nap, and I was very quietly explaining to other roommate how to work in the kitchen. Never mind her blaring TV.

-Fall asleep for nap. Overbearing, controlling roommate finds a very staticky gospel station on the TV and turns it up so all I can hear for two hours is a screaming man, organs and craziness. I’m going to loose my mind in this room.

 

But it’s okay. I’m going to overcome this. But I might throw her damn TV out the window first. On a brighter note, since I have to do bathroom duty twice today, my friend Brandi took my kitchen duty tonight. Isn’t that the sweetest thing?! She almost made me cry with that! Yesterday I gave Audra the ¼ bottle of Love Spell lotion by Victoria’s Secret that I had left. Kelly brought me a new bottle of another kind, so I thought she would enjoy it. I also gave her the copy of “The Four Agreements” because she’s been really enjoying it and getting something out if it. Mercedes gave it to Roszina sometime ago, Roszina gave it to me, and I gave it to Audra. She nearly cried about it and what I wrote inside of it. People are not used to kindness around here.

 

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Monday  12/26/05

 

Thank Buddha it’s December 26. We can all go back to our regularly scheduled programming and we’ve got 10 months before holiday madness starts again. I’m so very happy to report that all radio stations were back on their regular music by midnight last night. Even my Organic X, on every Sunday morning, subjected me to torturous Xmas music. I really can’t think of anything worse than hearing the Smashing Pumpkins doing, “Silent Night” or something of the sort.

 

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December 31, 2005

 

And so, the day I’ve been grappling with is here. But I’m glad because I think the anti-anticipation of waiting for my favorite holiday is worse than it being here. It’s kind of hard to sit here and know I would normally be getting dressed and ready to go out somewhere. I know JP is going to a party somewhere; that’s where I’d probably be. At visitation today, Kelly was showing me pictures he has stored on his iPod Nano. I was surprised to see that one of them is from New Year’s last year. I am standing in front of the Peach Drop wearing the tiara he and Rae bought for me. It was just over a week after I was released from that God-awful trip to Fulton County Jail. How innocent I looked, so blissfully oblivious to what my new year ahead would hold. Who knew that ¾ of it would be spent making my way through our penal system. But what a relief, because really, New Year’s at the Peach Drop feels like it was just yesterday. Every year I make several lists. On December 31 of every year, I make a list of significant events of that year, things I accomplished and things I didn’t (based on the previous year’s list), and things I learned. Then on January 1 of every year, I make a list of things I want to accomplish. It’s not a list of resolutions – I don’t believe in those. I call it a Master list. Sometimes there are things I didn’t accomplish, and others that seem to not be of interest anymore. So really it’s just my life’s Master List, and I review and update it every year.

 

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1/5/06  Thursday

 

Yeah, I’ve pretty much fallen behind on writing. That’s bad for my journal and people I love to send mail to, but I’ve honestly been using my time to work on myself lately. For the most part, things are going well. Time is moving on. But as always, I am most definitely making the most of my stay and making it as positive as possible. Really the biggest hurdle of the moment is still one of my roommates. Deborah and I will probably never see eye-to-eye. We seem to always recover quickly, but because I refuse to let her walk on me, we are having explosive moments on a near-daily basis.

 

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1/6/06  Friday

 

Yeah, it’s becoming a daily basis. I really just need to start existing in a room with her. Its strange, because being in all these groups and things really has me looking at myself and seeing behaviors and things I never used to see. My roommate relationship is beginning to look more and more like my relationship with my birth mother prior to our impasse. We’d have our moments, and we’d get over them, but only after I agreed to let her keep treating me poorly. No, Deborah doesn’t treat me like my mother exactly, but she still treats me negatively. She talks to me like I’m a child, trying to order me around and such. And she honestly forgets she’s not the only person living in that room. She likes to have her T.V. on 24/7 (it’s only legally allowed to be on 4:30pm -11pm, but she keeps it on all the time). Furthermore, it’s always blaring until near midnight. Never mind we have to be up at 4:15am. But lately, Mr. Wilkinson’s group advice is sinking in, because I am seeing myself repeating this pattern. I know I need to just co-exist in this room with her and stop trying to be friends. We don’t have to be roommates and friends. The truth of the matter is that we wouldn’t even be friends if we lived in different rooms.

 

But anyway, on to some extremely positive news. Things have been moving and shaking here. Job search finally started up again last week. Something has been transpiring that no one beyond Kelly and Mike have known about. Mainly, I haven’t had time to write about it. But also because I didn’t want to say anything until I got a handle on things…

 

Okay, back around December 14th, the day after I was classified, I was caught off-guard and called up to A-building. They called all the people who had been classified the previous day to the lobby. That’s usually a sign of getting pulled for crappy detail. I reluctantly came out. Sgt. Fowler came out and started handpicking people to come with her. She looked at me and said, “Oh, definitely her!” That made me kind of nervous. She picked about 6 of us and whisked us off in a hurry.

 

We were practically running to A-building. Halfway over there, she tells us, “Okay, look. I suggest you all go in there with some sense. There are people in there from the Governor’s Mansion, and they are probably going to want to talk to you and ask you some questions.” You can only imagine my surprise when I heard that. And of course, the small chuckle to myself at having once again being among the elite selected for something amazing. That’s all the information we had for the moment.

 

We were pretty much assuming maybe they were just evaluating the program and wanted to talk to actual residents who had just gone through the classification process. Little did we know they were the visitors who had walked through the building earlier that day. So the six of us stand in the lobby of A-building and wait for further instructions. Finally, Ms. Campbell comes out. (She is the Superintendent; the equivalent to a Warden). She says, “I only need two residents.” Then she looks right at me, pulls Michelle Allen and me and sent the rest back.

 

I must really carry myself well because I was the only one still wearing a jumpsuit since I didn’t have my clothes yet. As we are walking towards the conference room Ms. Campbell puts her arms around us and tells us that the people from the Governor’s Mansion are here to talk about working with The Center, and they are going to talk to us regarding a possible job. HOLY FRIJOLES! Now you can imagine my heart leaping out of my chest! It was suddenly clear why Sgt. Fowler was selecting certain residents to come up there, and why she said, “Definitely you!” See, it pays to walk a straight line here.

 

And because I volunteer for a lot of things, my face is obviously well known. Sgt. Fowler doesn’t even work in our building. I may have been passed over otherwise. So basically, we were put on the spot for a pre-interview with four staff members of the Governor’s Mansion. Two were liaisons of some sort who really didn’t say much. Two of the other women were direct staff of the Governor who I would be working directly with. Ms. Campbell also brought in Rexinger and Favors, two residents who are on long-term maintenance (not work release) because the position could either be paid or unpaid. If it were unpaid, it would likely go to one of them. If it’s paid, Michelle or I.  They also met with two men from next door.

 

So about the position. It’s basically working with the Governor’s mail that goes to his “house” address! Much of it is letters asking for funding of donations or lobbying mail. They have some sort of software designed to get the letters and requests on file and to get the files sent to the appropriate person to handle it.

 

To be honest, it’s all a little hazy, considering everything was surreal and happening so fast. But the bulk of the job would be scanning this mail into the system. No, not glamorous. In fact, I am most certain I would be highly bored much of the time. But behind every boring job at the Governor’s Mansion is a golden opportunity. Who could ask for a better networking opportunity?! Especially since I know I probably want to work in the prison system later. And this is the man himself that runs the Department of Corrections.

 

Also, I know they are trying to pick a model resident to make The Center look good. The ladies told us if this works out, they are likely to develop other positions for residents. I imagine the person who fills this position not only blazes the trail for future residents, but also becomes the poster child for the system. Maybe this will provide an opportunity for change, because it could be a direct avenue to the GDC powers that be. The interview itself was very strange. The four of us sat next to each other.

 

Also in the room besides the four people from the GM were Ms. Thomas, our employment manager, Ms. Campbell, The Superintendent, Lt. Jenkins and Sgt Fowler. Our interviews were very brief – our charges, our details while in prison, our job experience and education, and what we plan to do when we are released. Everything went well except that Favors, more of a “handyman” than a Secretary, nearly embarrassed the staff. I left there on a natural high. We were told they were still laying out plans but things would get moving and underway by the first of the year.

 

Oh, and I forgot to say that the woman mentioned we would be working on the 1st floor, and the Governor works on the 2nd floor. He frequently visits the 1st floor when he’s in town. Ms. Mobley, one of the Counselors who was also in there, apparently told Rexinger that she thought if it was an unpaid position, she would get it and if it was paid, I would. So I had to go through all those weeks of holiday madness wondering if anything would come of it. So then comes last Thursday, 1/29/06. I had just come in from a field trip with Ms. Calvert, my counselor (more on that later) and we were waiting in the lobby to go through shakedown.

 

Now just that morning, Ms. Calvert asked about the GM and if anything had come of it. I told her I hadn’t heard anything, but I am not holding up job search for it, that I’d continue looking for other opportunities. Well, I’m not sure how it happened, but suddenly Ms. Calvert was talking to Ms. Campbell, and Ms. Campbell called me over. She told me that the people from the GM are making it a paid position and they are definitely interested in meeting with me again. She asked when I could get my resume for her to fax to them. I was so very happy about that. She said she knew this was an extremely low salary compared to what I’m used to, but they would be paying $7.00/hr. I told her that honestly, money wasn’t my focus.

 

She had also mentioned that they were interested in meeting with Michelle. Kelly got my resume updated nicely for me, and I received it Wednesday night. Just in time, because Ms. Campbell called me up to her office to get it. She was faxing it downtown that day. Of course that perked me up even more. Michelle was on an interview at an animal hospital that day. She wouldn’t say no to a job at the GM, but she still hadn’t received her resume. And her interview went well, so hopefully she’ll get hired at the hospital.

 

Hopefully, next week I’ll/we’ll be heading out there to interview. I’m ready to go! I was hoping to just go ahead and secure this job so I could avoid all the job search bullshit of this place. And yeah, not only can I say I trained as one of the elite four on the fire department, but I can put the Governor’s Mansion on my resume, too. Unfortunately, I couldn’t completely avoid the job searching bullshit of the place. Obviously, nothing is for certain and I’ve got to work on a backup plan.

 

Much to my chagrin, Ms. Thomas called me up to make phone calls Wednesday. See, they are forcing us to be dinosaurs and try to find a job the old way – by making phone calls and searching the want ads, if we can actually see a paper. The rest of the world is using the Internet. And several jobs, at the very least, want you come in and fill out an application first. We don’t have that option. We can only go out with a scheduled interview. Just to give you in idea of how awful and frustrating it is; I made 20 phone calls. Maybe 2 said they weren’t hiring. 17 of them said that I have to come in and fill out an application, or more frequently, that I must go to their website and apply online before they’ll event consider me. GRRRRRRRRRR!

Sunday  1/15/06

 

Days like today are the ones that make being here hard. They are few and far between lately, but they still sneak up on me and catch me off-guard. I feel like I’m at everyone’s mercy. I eat when they tell me to eat. I clean when they tell me to clean. I sleep only when my roommates decide they want to go to sleep, instead of watching TV and talking loudly. Most days I stay motivated, even in this God-forsaken place. I draw, read and write a lot. Almost all of my “free” time is spent doing one of those activities.

 

Lately I’ve been focusing a lot on life beyond this; my goals, my hopes, my dreams, and my plans. Though it’s a slow process, I am cementing these things on paper. It’s a very exciting process because I virtually get to start over. I am not to return to the doom and gloom job I left when I came to prison. The world is my oyster, right? But very lazy days like today, when the daily grind of being in the constant presence of the same old people and same old attitudes get to me, my fears seep into my consciousness. The reality that I leave here to start over out there as a convicted felon (at least until I complete my First Offender requirements, in over 4 years) weighs heavy on my shoulders.

 

My displeasure in glancing over my resume to see jobs come and gone for one reason or another makes me cringe. I fail to remember, sometimes, that I’m fond of working for start-up businesses, and with that comes the risk that the company won’t survive. In several of my cases, that’s proven to be true. Today, I’ve let myself become worried and apprehensive about what is to come. Decisions need to be made about what career path to take and stay on. Financial burdens of outstanding taxes, old school loans, and of course the ever-looming restitution that leaves me shackled to the state. I know the salary I earned at DSI was good, and I’m afraid that I won’t be able to meet that again when I leave. I’m also afraid I’m never going to afford going back to school so I can really do what I love and earn the salary I deserve. I know that where there’s a will, there’s a way. I’ll make it, I’m sure. Just days like today get in the way.

 

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Thursday  1/19/06

 

I spent yesterday morning puking my guts out and going on an unexpected interview. (totally dehydrated with a completely empty stomach). It was a fantastic interview. I went with Karen and Tonja . It was at Fessco Federal Stamp and Seal. Ms. Thomas told us it was for a Typesetter position. (lots of typing) Sounded great to me. I met with the plant manager and the lady in charge of the department. They were both very nice. They were extremely impressed with my graphic design background. Gary’s (the plant manager) whole background is military and newspaper, so we had a lot in common and he talked about all the management changes.

 

The company was in a slump and they moved management around, fired, hired, etc. and how they are on their way back up. He said they wouldn’t be able to pay me anywhere in the neighborhood what my last salary was, but they pay well above minimum wage. I really expected low wages while I was here at The Center; getting $10/hr at best, if that. I think maybe I’ll get close to that here. They also have good insurance and good benefits. And many paid holidays, more than the 5 or 6 most companies get these days. At the end of the interview, the lady said she didn’t have any more questions for me, but hoped I did well on the typing test. It seemed that was her way of saying they were very interested in me. : )

 

So I really liked it. I think it would be a good fit. I think only one other person from The Center works there. Even though the interview went great, I was still feeling like complete shit. I was very dehydrated, my stomach was beyond empty and my head was pounding. We ended up stopping at McDonald’s at the Five Points Station. Oh My God! No, it was nowhere near as good as lunch at Copeland’s, but it had been nearly a year since I’ve experienced McD’s French Fries!! YUM! I instantly felt better. So that was my exciting day out.

 

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Friday  1/20/06

 

I unexpectedly got a card from Ms. Kathi last night. If you recall, Ms. Kathi is the lady that Mike and I bonded out of Fulton County. Anyway, I’d gotten a card from her right before I left Alto. Her roommate had passed away and she was suddenly near homelessness. She’s been staying at a very stable rooming house and getting some work, and getting her mail through a day shelter. When I got transferred here, I had to send almost all my mail home to Kelly, and I accidentally sent her letter with the address. So fortunately out of the blue, she sent me a card to Alto, and it got to me last night. Her card and letter just lit up my heart.

 

Here’s a woman who is not in any way, shape or form in good financial standing herself, as she’s living in a rooming house. But in her card, she was so excited that she’s able to sponsor a poverty-stricken boy in Bolivia who’s family income is only $75 a month. My heart was just taken by her spirit. Here’s a woman who can barely even afford to take care of herself out there, yet I never ever hear a word of complaint from her. Instead she’s excited that what little extra money she does have, she can sponsor a little boy who has less than she. What great inspiration. I really shouldn’t be complaining about anything.

 

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Monday  1/23/06

 

It’s been a whirlwind of a weekend. It was really good, though. Deborah and Donna worked, so Connie and I had the room to ourselves both nights. It was so peaceful. Anyway, big things happened Friday night after lunch. Actually, Thursday morning, Ms. Thomas called me over to her office. Federal Stamp and Seal called and they were doing a background check and reference check on me. They were calling to see if I was under an alias because they couldn’t find anything on me. I’m under First Offender, so that’s really good to know! And she more or less said it’s a great sign that they’re checking references and if they check out okay, they’ll be making an offer.

 

I was very happy and relieved about this because the stress of finding a job here is over. I can finally get out of here, and it is a really good job. So I left very happy. Obviously I had let go of the Governor’s Mansion since we hadn’t heard anything. So Friday morning after lunch, Ms. Campbell called me to her office. She congratulated me and told me THE GOVERNOR’S MANSION HAS HIRED ME! I was awestruck because that truly came out of nowhere. She said Ms. Thomas is going out there this week to negotiate a salary, but it won’t be any less than $7/hr. (not worried about money). The down side is I can’t start until February 1. But that’s okay, too.

 

Of course, she reminded me that I am the first that’s been hired there and I’m paving the way for other residents. In other words: Be good. But she knows she doesn’t have to tell me. So I left in shock and complete and utter joy. I got outside, and everyone was at smoke break. Everyone that knows me and knows I’ve been working with Ms. Campbell on this wanted to know what happened. Everyone (of my friends) was so happy for me. There were only a few negative comments that I’ve personally heard, from the two very toxic, negative people I would expect them from.

 

I rode down from Alto with one of them and we started off as good friends, but I avoid her because of her attitude. Anyway, she berated me over taking the Governor’s Mansion over the other job because the other one paid more. Whatever. I didn’t feel the need to justify my decision. But the afternoon was very weird. I am very humble and private, in the sense that I don’t brag about things nor do I put my business out for everyone. My interviewing at the GM was never a secret, I just never advertised. Well, word traveled fast that I was hired there. People came up and were congratulating me all day, even lots of people I don’t even know. So, I OFFICIALLY WORK FOR SONNY PERDUE. Maybe instead of a bonus, I can get a pardon. : )

 

Life here is as usual. So tired of living in this room. It was such a good weekend. Connie and I got to watch good TV shows Friday night (Friends!) and laughed until we cried. We were looking forward to next weekend when Deborah works again…but we found out last night she more or less got fired from her job (a waitress at City Café in College Park). She won’t tell us why. She said the manager wouldn’t tell her why; just that he said that he didn’t think it was going to work out. But see, something about Deborah, this job, and situation with her counselor have been stinking to high heaven lately.

 

Me and her other two roommates don’t believe her story as far as we can throw her. In the real world, you would just go find you a new job. But here, no matter the reason you lose your job, you get a DR and get sanctioned. She might have to go back into the jumpsuit for 30 days and do 30 extra details, etc. That’s all I’m going to say about that right now. Oh, and remember that friend I made at Alto, the one that escaped from here 2 days before I got here? She was from St. Louis and was recaptured last week. Turns out she ended up going back home to St. Louis. I gave her more credit than that. But she has kids so I guess she went home to them. She’ll be back to prison soon, Cest la vie.

 

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Tuesday  1/24/06

 

Another day in Paradise. Our maintenance manager of the center has been promoted and is a Sergeant now. Her power tripping has really gotten on everyone’s nerves. She’s had us cleaning every waking minute so far. I swear its like diagnostics all over again. Anyway, Deborah refused to see her situation as it really is. She’s the queen of denial. Sure enough, she was served her DR this morning. She was slacking. We weren’t. She’s got to go to DR court later this week to be sanctioned. Likely she’ll have to go back into a brown jumpsuit for a least two weeks, 15 extra details, go through Job Readiness Group again, and classification again. That’s pretty serious. Not to mention she’s up for parole and they told her husband that her parole would depend on her success in this program. Huh.

Friday  1/27/06

 

What a whirlwind week it’s been. I’ve got so much to report on. Here’s the latest dirt:

 

-Our roommate Donna moved to B building Monday night.

-Deborah, as I already mentioned got fired from her job.

-Because Donna moved out, we got a new roommate Tuesday. It started off shaky, but it has worked out great. She’s a for real convict J We like her.

-As a major but relieving shock to all of us, they moved Deborah to B building on accident Wednesday night. Apparently the paperwork to move her crossed with her termination paperwork.

-Yesterday, we got a new awesome roommate. Our room has been so amazing and stress free for the last 24 hours. I haven’t felt this free in 3 months. All my roommates get along; we’re all super clean without drama or attitude. This is a true rarity.

-Deborah has been moved back to our building but is trying to raise hell and get our roommate moved out and herself moved back in. That’s been my only real stress.

-I got my package from Kelly. He is too good to me. It sure made my day.

-Ms. Thomas called me up about my new job since she went and met with them and got all the details.

-Sgt. Channel unrightfully tried to call me out in front of the LT., saying my pants were too tight when really they were very loose. I just have good shape.

-JP and Mike get to visit this weekend. I am so excited.

-I got lots of good mail this week. 

- super good friend Shon at Pulaski got parole papers this week.

 

So yeah, I definitely start February 1 at the Governor’s office. I am really excited. Ms. Thomas said there’s one negative thing about it: they won’t start the salary any higher than 6.50/hr until they see how I work out. Jesus! I haven’t seen a salary that low since high school. But I respect that. She said if I play my cards right, there is a lot of opportunity waiting there for me. I feel it, too. I always keep in mind I didn’t take this job for the money. My hours will be from 9am to 4pm, Monday – Friday. I couldn’t ask for more perfect hours. Also, Ms. Sanders called me up to her office this week to clarify some information. Both she and Ms. Thomas told me the Commissioner if VERY interested in what’s going on with me and this position and they faxed over a stack of information on me (to him). 

 

I am most certainly the poster girl for this place. Even the Warden of Metro State Prison knew who I was when he walked through today. Ms. Thomas said they are a little nervous. Not because I’m a convict and they’re afraid I’m going to rob them or anything. They just don’t know what to expect of me, and they just want to make sure they follow The Center’s rules and do things right. But she said that with my personality they’ll warm up quick. Also, she said she wanted to tell me something she hoped I would find funny and not be offended. She said the lady told her my desk would be near a desk that has a plate stamp of the Governor’s signature, and would that be a problem since I’m in for forgery charges?

 

Ms. Thomas said that there are some residents here she’d be worried about but definitely not me. Not only do I not have a criminal mind like that, I’m smart enough to know my every move is going to be watched. So I’m ready to go. I know my charm and hard work is going to earn me something amazing.

 

On to more childish thing…

 

The most current hot topic is mine and Connie’s roommate situation. To recap, I’ve been living with Deborah, the nightmare roommate, since I moved in. I’ve just been biting the bullet until I moved to B building in two or three weeks, but it was getting tough. Donna moved out Monday night. We always sweat when a new bed opens up because you never know what you’re going to get. Fortunately, our new roommate is great one. She came in kind of bitchy because she didn’t ask to come here. But she’s a great fit because of her attitude and personality. Of course Deborah managed to get off on the wrong foot with her because she immediately started trying to take her on her food.

 

Then Wednesday night, Deborah was informed at 9pm that she’d be moving up to B building. Apparently paperwork was mixed up because she lost her job and shouldn’t be moving. Connie and I were thrilled even if it was only for a night because we knew they’d be moving her back immediately. The next day was intake, and we got Shawn, a new roommate. Now, we heard about Shawn long before she moved in. Shawn is an obvious stud, and I’ve explained before how studs are like celebrities in prison. So I was a little hesitant about it. But much to my delight, I love her. She’s a cute little thing. Her attitude is awesome, she’s smart, kind, respectful, and fits in with us so well.

 

She’s originally from New Jersey and yeah, she’s Gangsta-style, but you can’t help but love her. Ironically, she was really good friends with Shon at Pulaski. I remember Shon talking about this Shawn in her letters. I see why she hung out with her. Most studs rely on the needy girls to have their needs met (store, money, etc.).  But both of these two don’t play that game, they take care of themselves. I hold much respect for them. They are so rare. Man, our room is so stress-free. It’s just amazing…there are no words. We all sit and talk and share things. We laugh and learn from each other and it’s so quiet and relaxed. No one is sweating the small stuff.

 

But what’s sad is no one realized how stressful this room was when Deborah was in here. It’s like it took a breath of fresh air to realize it. So its all going good…except Deborah is doing really nasty, manipulating things to get Shawn moved out and her back into this room. They moved Deborah back down last night, to the room across the hall. There’s one problem: She faked a fall at Alto to get a bottom bunk profile, and the bed she moved into is a top bunk. She pitched a fit last night and they finally agreed to let her put her mattress on the floor of the classroom. Puh-leeze! So all day today, she’s been planted out on the bench in the lobby and stalking the nurse (the one she’s got tons of personal dealings with) and her counselor.

 

The nurse wrote out her bottom bunk profile. I was a serious basket case last night. My blood pressure shot way up at the threat of her moving back in here. I know my attitude towards her will not be pleasant if she uproots Shawn and gets moved in here. So yeah, I’m sweatin it. But the reality is, she can get a bottom bunk profile, but she really doesn’t have the power to get back in this room (nor does the nurse). It’s 7:20pm and she still hasn’t moved, so that’s a good sign. Have I mentioned I love my room now?

 

In other news, I’m very excited about my visitation tomorrow. After several failed attempts at visiting, JP will finally visit tomorrow! I’m so excited. Then Dawn will be here in February. Next week, I’m going to submit a letter to Ms. Campbell to request consideration for a pass home. I’m feeling confident I’ll get it.

 

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Friday, February 03, 2006

 

 Email from Kelly:

Okay,  Since Andi has been at The Center her time to write has been limited so the updates have been slow in coming, not to mention chronologically out of order. So, attached are all of the updates from The Center. I received all but one of them last weekend at visitation. There is only one which you have already read, it’s Edition 7, I believe. To be safe I have added it again here.

 

To snap everyone to the present, Andi chose to work with the Governor and her first day on the job was today! (Weds) She will be working downtown at the capitol, not at the mansion. The commute will be significantly shorter and it opens up even more networking opportunities for her.

 

Dawn she’s really looking forward to seeing you this month…Let me know if you have a preferred weekend date or any other questions. Only 30 more week’s people!

 

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Friday, February 10, 2006

 

 Email from Andi: (yes, that's right!)

Greetings, everyone! It’s been awhile since I’ve sent an email (that wasn’t through Kelly or someone else), so bare with me.

 

I am sure most everyone has heard that I am on the very last leg ofthis (insert any number of adjectives here) journey. I am indeed at the Transitional Center, in the work releaseprogram. And somehow, I managed to finagle the first EVER paid internshipat the Office of the Governor. Like the fire department, this fell in mylap, I pursued it, and here I sit.

 

I work for Constituent Services, mainly handling all the incoming mail addressed to the Governor – personal mail, legislative mail, complaints,compliments, etc. Yes, I am glorified mailroom clerk. But I’ll tell you, it is by far the most interesting mailroom in the state :) I am reminded constantly that if I pay my dues here, there are plenty of opportunities to be had once I leave the ‘system’. Best of all, they don’t treat me any differently because I am from the Center. I really like the people I work for. And I am grateful everyday, because if I were a normal citizen on the street with a degree, I would’ve had to intern with other agencies for nearly free before I’d have a shot at this one.

 

 

Things are going well, though. It is frustrating to return to the Center everyday after being out in the real world again, but only 7 months to go, and I’ll be free. I am using my time wisely, but truly missing my life and everyone in it. Thank you all for your continued support,mail, well wishes, etc. I don’t think I could’ve done it without you. I apologize for not being in touch lately, but living at the Center is crazier than I could put to words.

 

 

This is my work email address; please feel free to drop a line everynow and then. I probably won’t be able to respond immediately mostdays, but I would love to hear from everyone. Also, please don’tinclude this address on the ‘forwards’ emails – I prefer notto received jokes, etc. Photos are okay as long as they aren’tinappropriate. At least I’m in touch with the world again

 

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Wednesday 2/22/06

 

I can’t believe I’m living out this crazy ass adventure and I never have enough time to write about it. So I’m going to try and get this written before I fall asleep. I’m just going to give at least a quick rundown of what’s been going on since I started working. Hopefully I can at least get that much out. Since I have email access now, though very limited, I think most of you know I am working as a paid intern for Sonny Perdue, the Governor of Georgia. It’s a pretty big honor. Especially since I know if I were just a regular citizen with a degree on the street, I wouldn’t have had a chance in hell at getting this internship. I love my job, considering it is so very entry level and the work itself is really boring. Its all the other stuff that goes with it that makes it worth it. Putting this on my resume, the experience, networking, etc. So anyway, here are the highlights:

 

1.  I love my supervisor. That’s pretty vital considering we share an office. I thought she was going to be moody but we’re great together. She’s a huge supporter for me and we talk about a lot of life things. I am grateful to have her.

 

2.  On my very first day, my Director emailed the Governor to tell him it was my first day, and the Governor actually came down to see me! It was very cool. He is so nice and genuine. They are going to arrange having my picture taken with him so he can put a greeting on it and he can sign it.

 

3.   Then the following Friday, the Commissioner, James Donald, came over to meet with me. He came to speak at Lee Arrendale when I was there, and a lot of what he had to say really stuck with me. He is also very kind and genuine. We got to talk for about 30 minutes. I am going to have an opportunity to sit down and talk to him in length since I really want to work with the prison system. More on that later. Anyway, I see him at least two or three times a week. Considering my career path, he’s kind of a more important contact to me than the Governor. If things go well (and they will), I think I’m going to ask him to be my mentor when I leave in August. So anyway, his assistant took a picture of me with the Commissioner, my supervisor, my Director and the Deputy Director. My supervisor printed out a picture for me to keep. It’s not a great quality picture, but its really cool. It hangs in my locker, and the officers and several residents even are really impressed with it. My Director said that the Commissioner raves about me in all his meetings. I think I am going to be the poster child for several programs he’s trying to implement for the prison system. I kind of like being a trailblazer. I especially like implementing change into the prison system!

 

4.  Last Tuesday I got to take part in something really cool. Apparently, Ariel Sharon, The Prime Minister of Israel, was in town for an event with the Governor. They had a publicity event up in the foyer of the Governor’s ceremonial office, and we got to go. No, I didn’t get to meet or shake hands with Sharon, but I was in the same room with him as they took photographs. One of the House photographers printed out two very professional photos of them for me and gave them to me. It was very cool.

 

5.  I am always interacting with the Senator and Legislatures. That took some getting used to. But it’s really cool. They come and go from my office all day.

 

6.  I work in the most interesting mailroom in the state. That’s fo’ sho’! You wouldn’t believe some of the crazy letters we get from crazy people. There’s a woman who keeps sending gold watches and neckties to the Governor, convinced they are in some secret affair. Also, we got an “aliens and the Bush administration are doing brain experimentations on me and enrolled me into a spy organization”. Although they probably aren’t too far off on the Bush administration…

 

7. Since the legislature is in session, lobbyists are always bringing food in to feed people. So at least once or twice a week, I eat good, real world food. Valentine’s Day was out of control – everyone was bringing gifts to us.

 

8.  Apparently, I am of much better quality than they expected out of an inmate. I did three weeks worth of work on my third or fourth day there. They actually told me to slow down. And we’ve had two short staff meetings about the job I do, and I guess I really help them out because in both meetings, they gave me a round of applause. That was crazy. I’m not one to be called out like that, but it’s a really strange sensation being recognized for my good hard work after this last year of being screamed at and berated by COs and the year prior working for Tom. (My former boss) It feels really weird to be appreciated.

 

9. Apparently there’s been a hiring trend at the capitol. Most of the interns in the past started as an intern, and then had to take tiny crap jobs in other agencies before landing really good jobs. But over the last year or so, quality interns are going from being interns straight into the prime jobs. Hopefully this will happen for me. Gayle (my supervisor) said she thinks, based on my circumstances and the way the Commissioner talks about me, that there is going to be a good job guaranteed for me on the other side. I sure am striving for it.

 

I guess that about covers work-related things. Here’s some other goings on:

 

1.  I moved to B-building, the second of three buildings, almost two weeks ago. It was hard to leave at first because I was pretty happy and content finally with my roommates. And who knows what I’d be walking into over at B-building. But it was inevitable. Also, B-building is open. It’s set up like cubicles, so not only do I live with two roommates, I pretty much live with the other 15 girls that live on this hall and anyone else that walks through. It’s loud most of the time. But on the flip side it’s mostly better. Since everyone works over here, you aren’t around everyone all the time. Also, the officers are slightly more relaxed and leave us alone more over here. I really, really like one my roommates. The other one I couldn’t stand over in C-building because she’s an old, overbearing, demanding lady. But somehow we make it work. It could be much worse. My very super good friend Brandi lives next to me, which was a major relief. One of my best friends from prison, Tenli, is moving up here soon, too.

 

2.  My other super good friend, Audra, just went home last Monday. I am happy for her, but I really miss her. I wrote her a 7-page letter and cried when I said goodbye. She’s going to do good, I think. (she’s an addict)

 

3. I had put in a request for Ms. Campbell to consider letting me go home on pass since I have not a single infraction or DR, I have my very own apartment and its only 7 miles from here. My counselor said she probably won’t consider it until Phase II is complete (early March). So for now, I only get to go to work and have visitation. It could be worse.

Friday  March 3, 2006

 

Today marks one year! 365 days time served! When it’s put in terms of a full year, it’s hard to believe. But the events of my morning make me exhausted thinking about the remaining 6 months ahead. It was truly fitting on my one-year mark, a reminder of where I am despite having one foot in the real world. I had just gotten out of bed at 6am to get ready for work. At 6:05, the CO got on the intercom and told us to report to the dining hall immediately. We knew that could only mean on thing: Shakedown.

 

I personally don’t have a problem with shakedowns except I tend to keep too many books, CD’s and mail, but nothing to really get in trouble over. My problem is that they want to do a shakedown at 6am when a good portion of their residents are trying to get ready to get out the door for work. They put 3 officers in our building. They start on C-hall – I’m on A-hall. While they are shaking down, we sit, unable to go to our room. Some of us that were due to catch the 7:34am bus approached some of the officers to find out about getting ready for work. Their reply was basically to sit down and wait until they were done. So there I sat in my pajamas, fuming as I watch the minutes tick by. It took them over an hour to go down C-hall. Finally at 7:20am, LT tells us that we can go get ready for work. Mind you my bus leaves at 7:34am and I’m still in my pajamas.

 

Considering where I work, its not like I could just throw anything on and go out half-assed, though I pretty much did. At 7:30am, the LT gets on the intercom and says, “Settlemoir, you’re supposed to be on this bus! I suggest you report to the CO Station immediately!” I just stood there for a minute and thought they had to be kidding. (We get an infraction for reporting late to sign out). I finally got up there at 7:45am. LT had the nerve to stand there and lecture me about being late. At some point I finally just cut her off (something I never do to CO’s as much as I’m tempted) to remind her we’ve been held for shakedown since 6am. She finally let me go (without an infraction). To top it off, they only shook down C-hall, they never got to A or B-hall. So if they finish on Monday as some of the officer’s said they would, then I guess I have to repeat the whole thing over again.

 

I guess the positive side is that I didn’t come home to a destroyed room and locker like the C-hall residents did. I ended up being late for work by 25 minutes. I understand the reasons for routine shakedowns, and its just part of being in prison – work release or otherwise. But conducting them at a time that causes residents to be late for their jobs shows one more reason why businesses don’t want to hire from the Center. And showing up to my job where I’m supposed to be professional and timely only to explain I’m late because of shakedown is embarrassing to say the least. Fortunately my employer is understanding. But most of these girls work at restaurants where they have to open the place.

 

I’ve been sick this week so my supervisor was actually worried about me. That was a nice feeling. And that was the other thing – I’d already went home early on Tuesday and missed work on Wednesday, so I was very conscious about being late. But it was fine. My day picked up from there. We had a breakfast courtesy of the media department – fresh, hot buttery biscuits! They were so good! I miss real breakfast food! This week, and time in general, has passed pretty quick. I lost Tuesday and Wednesday almost completely. I started feeling rough Sunday evening – headache, sore throat, and slight chest irritation. Monday was a little worse. Gayle was even out sick on Monday. I went home and rested all night Monday knowing I was sick without question. I really shouldn’t have gone to work on Tuesday, but the only reason I went was because Ms. Calvert wrote me a note to stop and get some medicine at Kroger on my way back in.

 

I knew I wouldn’t make it at work all day. But I really didn’t realize just how sick I was, because I was deteriorating quickly. By the time I got to work, I could hardly think straight. Apparently, there is a medical station at the capitol, and a nurse and doctor volunteer to work it every day that the legislature is in session. Well, thank God for that because it’s the only medical attention I have received the whole time I’ve been sick. Pam took me up to see them. They took my temp and it was 101.5. They looked at my throat and listened to my breathing. The doctor told me what I pretty much already knew. I had a decent case of Bronchitis. He gave me 5 sample packets of antibiotics and some Advil cold and cough. I was so grateful. There was no way the Center was going to allow me to have it, so I kept the Advil at work and snuck the antibiotics in. They sent me home after that.

 

It was the most miserable two-hour trip home I’ve ever had. I waited forever for the bus. Then I had to stop at Kroger to get some meds. And it took another 45 minutes to get another bus, as I’m standing at the bus stop on the corner in the middle of the ghetto. The fever was really setting in, and I was slightly disoriented by the time I got to the center. One of my least favorite officers, Ms. Bowman, was working the CO station when I got in and proceeded to give me a really hard time. I was really not in the mood. Eventually I got to go to bed where I stayed for two days. That fever was crazy. I apparently had conversations I don’t even remember having. This week has been my breaking point on how the officers threat us. They treat us like dogs. I am thinking I am going to put myself out there and write a letter to Ms. Campbell, our Superintendent. They really breed a negative environment.

 Thursday, March 23, 2006

 

 I apologize for being behind the curve on this one.  Some of you have asked about the “Soap on a Rope” public blog.  Well, lets just say I forced Kelly to remove the public blog.  He couldn’t find a way to hide it or make it private.  Basically, I am at the Transitional Center, which means my risk of the repercussions of someone finding my blog on accident and me telling things that I shouldn’t be telling in a work release program (i.e. where I work) increase.  Greatly.

 

I just had an overwhelming gut feeling to remove the blog.  I knew it was easy to find – a simple search of ‘fire department’ and ‘Lee Arrendale’ in the same sentence or whatever would bring it up.  So Kelly is essentially emailing my updates now instead of posting them.  Below are two of the latest from last month sometime.  When Kelly types them up and emails them out, I’m going to post them here as well like MonsVenus did.  So that’s the deal.

 

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Friday, March 24, 2006

 

Life is full of trade-offs.

 

We make one decision and take one road at the sacrifice of another.  In all places, I’ve learned this in prison.  I’ve previously written about the bittersweet news I received a few months ago that my two fellow GDC firefighters, Mary and Brenda, finally tested and certified Mod I, back in January.  It was a good feeling to know that they are finally moving forward.  But it stung, too, that I was left behind.

 

But life is a trade off.  I was abruptly yanked away from my peace at the fire department to come to the center, where it hurt like hell for the first month or so.  But I found my place, and what a place to be.  I am working for the Governor.  As an inmate.  And I know that they will do everything in their power to secure permanent employment come August 31.  If I were still at the fire department in prison, I couldn’t have been here to gain this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

 

I had to remind myself of that this morning.  Tenli, who was on outside detail and was frequently with the fire department, emailed me this morning and said Whitney, our friend that finally made it on to the FD shortly after I left Lee Arrendale, wrote her a letter.  She said that her and the others in the 2nd generation of LASP firefighters tested last week and certified Mod I.  Once again, it’s a bittersweet feeling, because I wouldn’t have it any other way, but I am sad that I’m missing out.  Also, they are working on learning to drive the trucks so that they can license and start going on fire calls.  That will be a tough one, when I start to hear they are going on calls.

 

But here I am.  I know I am where I’m supposed to be.  I am in a place that could (or is?) potentially helping those girls finish that program.  Before I came here and got to know the Commissioner, he was not aware how serious the women at LASP were about completing the firefighter program.  I know for a fact it is now on his radar.

 

In other related news, I had a sit-down talk with my Director, Kay, and my Supervisor, Gayle.  They called an impromptu meeting with me before leaving last night.  Kay said that they want to know what my future plans are, as in what line of work I want to do.  I have mentioned repeatedly that I ultimately want to work for the department of corrections, but I know it won’t happen overnight.  I told them I want to continue working in government and politics in the meantime.

 

Kay said that they were going to start talking me up now, and they were going to start pushing to find me a permanent position in June, when I’m three months out from release.  They really want to keep me in the Governor’s office, but if for some reason I am unable to secure a position here, Kay is going to go to the other agencies on behalf to find a position there (media, corrections, building authority, etc.).  This really pleased me that she is so happy with me and my work that she is starting 5 months in advance to make sure I have secure employment come August 31.

 

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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

 

There hasn’t been time for anything than the daily grind lately.  I find it hard to believe than anyone can survive at this Center on a long term basis.  Who am I to talk – by the time I leave, I will have spent 10 months here.  Our level of responsibility to the Center is obnoxious.  We get so little time to ourselves, and what little time I do get, it is spent showering (or waiting in line to do so), laundry, ironing clothes for work, preparing for inspection, or trying to chase down and harass my counselor or other administrative personnel as necessary.

 

I’ll admit I get the occasional hour of free time to watch t.v. or go out to smoke break (purely for the weather), but that’s about it.  I am trying to fit small projects in here and there, but mostly its just go, go, go.  At work, we are so busy with hot issues (Cynthia McKinney, Katie Beckett waiver, eminent domain, Bible being taught in schools and Immigration – all huge issues that directly affect Georgia) that I am slam busy from the time I get here until the time I leave.

 

I miss blogging.  I miss writing to my loved ones.  I miss talking on the phone to my peeps.  I miss reading for more than 5 minutes before I go to sleep.  I miss drawing and creative writing.

 

It is quiet in the office today, as Kay, the Director, is on vacation and Gayle, my supervisor I share an office with, is out.   Here's a quick update on some other things (some items have been removed for privacy reasons and to protect the privacy of others):

1.  The citizens of Georgia scare me sometimes with their letters.  It makes me want to move out.  Now.

2.  The tulips and daffodils and other pretty flowers around the Capitol are amazing.

3.  My roommates and I managed to smuggle in real grilled pork chops, mashed potatoes, fried cauliflower and cheesecake Sunday.  LA went on pass and brought it back.  When I say smuggled, I mean for real – in a trashbag, through our room window.  It was delicious and naughty!

4.  I had a 45 min. visit with Eric (guy I dated prior to incarceration) Sunday.  It went amazingly well.  I remember why I liked him so much.  But I never want to date him again.

5.  I have been sewing t-shirts and cute stitched things made out of scraps of old clothes for Moo and me.  Its amazing how resourceful one can become in prison.

6.  I ate good last week – Pappadeux for the end of session luncheon, Mary Mac’s from a Senator’s luncheon and Lowcountry BBQ for a good luck luncheon.  I think my days of eating good at the Capitol are over until next year.

10.  I have decided my area of specialization in psychology will be criminology.  With that, I am deciding my education path as we speak, and would LOVE to enroll in a correspondence course for the remainder of my time at MTC.

11.  I had a good counseling session with my counselor last Thursday – she even got me to cry, which was much needed.

12.  Living in my room is still an extremely good situation, though it has its moments.

13.  I deviated slightly to sneak some McDonald’s Monday night.  It was good.  And a pain in the ass.

14.  I was browsing books on Borders today, and started a shopping cart just to bookmark the ones I want to put on my wish list (I was not signed in)… I managed to rack up over $3K worth of books in less than 5 minutes, and I’m not even off of one subject yet…

15.  I am in love with the Latin language.

16.  Kelly and JP have started on the Fur Bus plans and I am so excited I could scream.

17.  I have been denied to go on pass yet again.  I will be reconsidered to maybe go home a few times in July and August.

18.  I have also been denied the right to touch-up the blonde highlights in my hair to make it look somewhat decent since its grown out, yet the girl next door has bright red hair.

19.  For someone who’s never had an infraction in the 5 months I’ve been here, not a single DR, works and acts like a show pony at the Capitol and is always doing something good for the Center, they sure don’t want to give me an incentive.

20.  But I’m not mad.

21.  I work with some weirdoes.

22.  I let someone trim my hair for the first time since I’ve been in.

23.  I want to go on a good first date so bad I can feel it.

24.  With that, I miss human connection on all levels.

25.  Shon’s aunt, whom she was really close to, passed away last week.

26.  I believe there was a reason I was forced to endure these 18 months (and it wasn’t for punishment, either).  I think its all coming clear now.

27.  The time change has totally messed me up this year for some reason.  I told Moo Monday morning to call someone to get our hour back.  She said she did, and they told we could.  In October.

28.  My job is mind-numbingly boring most of the time.

29.  I make less in a month than I made in a week at my old job.

30.  The intern I work with most often makes me laugh, but he doesn’t intend to.  Let me put it this way.  He is applying for Law School.  At a school that doesn’t even have a law school…

31.  I feel so guilty about being out of touch with everyone.  Really guilty.

32.  I really need to start meditating again.

33.  I have been really motivated lately.

34.  I have sent out about a letter per day (very, very short) to prison reform organizations asking for info and volunteer opportunities.

35.  I think I get more done in prison than most people do in the real world.

36.  Over the last three days, we have received 25,000 emails opposing teaching the Bible in public schools.  Surprised since I live in the ultimate Bible Belt state.

38.  I am tired of feeling torn all the time.

39.  I am addicted to Lance’s Smokehouse Cheddar crackers (I’ve got Lance in my pants).

40.  We got into a deep conversation about Lee Arrendale State Prison this morning and I actually started to feel homesick for it.  That’s just sick.

41.  I have to be up at 3:30 a.m. on Sunday for kitchen detail.  That really sucks.

42.  I was appointed Vice President of the World of Work program/group.  I hate the group, I really do, but I’m sticking it out.   We have a formal cap ‘n gown graduation on April 28.

43.  Prison Break remains the only show I am truly addicted to.  And did I mention that I love Wentworth Miller, and I am sure that he loves me?

44.  My counselor is going to recommend me for early release once I finish Phase III (in a few weeks), but chances are I’ll still sit here until August 31.  It is the way of the Parole Board in Georgia.  Loverly, isn’t it?

46.  The man who runs the little sundry shop across the hall from my office whistles from sun up to sun down.  It annoys the living hell out of me because it echoes down the marble hallway, and it sounds like he’s sitting right next to me.  Did I mention this is an all day thing?!

48.  I am going to have to go to the doctor.  There is something going on... considering I'm lactating, haven't has sex in over a year, and have never been pregnant a day in my life.  I mean, seriously, this has to happen in prison?

49.  I miss the gym so much.

50.  I am in chains, but I am free.

Friday, April 07, 2006

 

 Someone, not naming any names, has pressured me to update my list of prison terms so I spent the last two weeks with my cohorts (Moo, LA and Tenli) compiling a complete list.  I also carried my little notebook so that when I heard another one of those over-used terms, I could jot it down.  This is the result.  Some of these terms are used on the street as well, but pop culture and magnify it by about a billion, and that’s what I live in.  The one’s in red are the ones that grate on my nerves the most.  I know I forgot some, and I couldn’t find my old list from Fulton County Jail to make sure I included them, too.  I’ll update as needed.  Enjoy!  ~Andi

 

Communicado del Prison:

38 Hot – mad, angry, as in “that hoe made me 38 hot when she cheated on me!”

4 piece: A full set of restraints (cuffs, leg irons, waist, and security cover)

Ain't Right: A situation, person, or object of dubious correctness as in "Somethin' ain't right with that Cat."

All Day: all the time, for a long time.  Can mean a life sentence, as in "He's doin' all day.. ."

All Day and a Night: Life without parole

Ass Betting: Gambling without any funds or means of paying back one's loses

Ass Out: A prisoner who has does not have anything coming or who has disrespected officers to the point where they don’t cut her any slack

Beat the Compound:  walk the compound, out looking for your friends

Birds on the Line: Warning that someone is listening to a conversation

Bitch Up: To cry or give in

Blues or Prison Blues: Prison clothes

Books: Trust fund account, "on the books." All money received by a prisoner is placed into a trust account and may be withdrawn for store, commissary, special orders, shoes, etc.

Boot Camp: Military style programs used by many states for some first time offenders

Booty Check: Rectal search

Bounce: Move along, get lost

Bowling Alley: Area where prisoners walk; prisoners walk along the yellow lines on the side of the walkway, while officers and staff walk on the inside

Bull Dagging: Homosexual activities between women; taking a homosexual partner. Also, "Bull Dagger," a macho-acting lesbian

Bumpin Ya Gums: Talking Excessively

Bump It On Down: An Order to get moving

Bunkie: The person with whom a prisoner shares a double bunk bed

Burrito:  prison food made of ramen noodles, various potato chips, crackers, cheese, salsa, pickle, etc. – put into an a potato chip bag and cooked with hot water, looks like a burrito, enough sodium to kill a small horse (yes, we live off of them)

Burnt Up: To get into trouble or to receive a disciplinary report

Bush Pass: An escape or walk-away

Butched In: performing oral sex for favors

Cadillac:  An extra long cigarette, usually a Newport (that’s everyone’s first choice)

Call: time for a specific procedure, as in Pill Call (medication), Yard Call (smoke break, outdoor time), Mail Call, Chow Call, etc.

Captian Save a Hoe:  a girl who is always helping others at her own expense, girls who are always taken advantage of

Cat Nap: Relatively short sentence.

Cat Walk: Walkway or tier where officers patrol

Chow:  meal served in the dining hall

Coca-Cola Bottle:  A shapely female

Coffee and a Day: Out in just over a day

Commissary: Money for buying stamps, toiletries, cigarettes, and other items. The place to buy it. It was only called “commissary” in county jail for me, called ‘Store’ in prison

Convict: A prisoner with traditional values. One who has pride and respect, who maintains integrity, who is not an informant, whose word is good. A convict is different from an inmate.  A convict is more of a professional criminal.

Code 21: Masturbation

Crib: Home on the street

Christmas Package:  once a year package containing nuts, civilian hair products, CDs, etc.  usually pronounced ‘crima package’

DR: Disciplinary report

Daddy: A dominant prisoner who is ‘with’ a weaker homosexual partner

Date: The release date, TPM is Temporary Parole Month, the month the parole board should initiate parole if you are awarded early release

Dawg:  you friend, someone you’re down with, know they’ve got your back

Dipping in the Kool Aid: Trying to enter a conversation when a person has no business doing it

Down: Locked up, as in "This your first time down?", or “how long have you been down?”

Drama: To cause a disturbance, as in "There's gong to be a little drama."

Drive Up: New officer or prisoner. Can be used as in "just drove up."

Dry Rat: Prisoner who snitches in front of another person, usually when something slips, not intentional, or in a round-about way

Dry Snitch: (1) prisoners crowding around a fight that draw the officers' attention. (2) a prisoner who talks about something important to another prisoner in front of an officer or another inmate whom they know will snitch

Ear Hustling: Listening to conversations going on over the tier (eavesdropping)

Flipping the Script: (usually pronounced ‘scrip’) A person (usually an officer) that acts one way one day and another the next

For Real For Real:  For real, as in “I’m serious for real”

Front: To act differently when people are in the area

G.P.: General population, where you go after diagnostics and classification

Get Somewhere:  used by officers to tell inmates to more or less get out of their hair, go away

High Class: Hepatitis C . As in "She's high class!"

Hit It: Masturbation or sex

Hit the Bricks, Hit the Street: (pronounced ‘skreet’) To be released to the streets

Homeboy, Homegirl: Another prisoner from one's hometown or neighborhood, or someone you’ve been down with for awhile, gone from facility to facility with

Inmate: Just another prisoner. It may be a derogatory term to refer to a prisoner who does not have the values of a convict. A new prisoner who does not know the code of the prison system.

Inside, In the Fence: Behind the walls

“…is me!”:  As in “who was mad about that IS ME!” with emphasis on ‘is me’

Jack: To steal

Jack Up: To mess up, fight, injure

Kite: Notes or letters. Any message passed to a prisoner. To "send or shoot a kite" is to send a message.

Lifer: A prisoner serving a life sentence

Ma: A girlfriend of a prisoner who is sticking it out, either inside or out

Make Paper: Make parole

Max Out: To serve one's full sentence

New Jack: New officer or prisoner

Nut up: Go crazy, become enraged. To plead insanity, sometimes shortened to "nutted."

Off the Chain: Go crazy, went crazy, is crazy (usually in reference to good food, good song, etc.)

Off the Hook: Crazy, weird, odd. "He's off the hook", "This place is off the hook".

Old School: An old timer. One who has the values of a "convict" when prisoners paid more respect to each other.   Also to mean any term, song, phrase, etc. that is from year ago

Old-Timer: A convict who has served a lot of time inside

Perpatrate:  to act like you are supposed to be somewhere you’re not, trying to get by

Phat: Pretty Hot And Tempting (attractive female).

Po Po: police office, correction officer, as in “Is that the Po Po out there?”

Real Friend: Someone who sends packages or money

Ride Out: Transfer to a new prison. "They're riding out tomorrow."

Schooled: Taught in the ways of prison life

Shakedown: A search of a cell, work area, or person. The most common complaint by prisoners is that property is lost, destroyed, or left scattered after a search

Shot out: Useless, worn out, as in “That chick is shot out!”

Squat ‘n Cough:  personal body shakedown for women, squat and cough so as to expose any vaginally-hidden contraband (yeah right)

State Issue: Food, prison clothing, and other items given or mandated by the state

Stud:  A masculine female inmate, the dominant in a female-female relationship

To the Door:  serving everyday of your sentence, maxing out

Monday, April 10, 2006

 

1.  it’s hard to believe its April 10 already.

2.  my taxes will indeed be late this year…

3.  I want to be outside with my book.

4.  my brain is so bored at work today its numb.

5.  tomorrow is another play day for me – yeah!

6.  our power was out last night, preventing book reading… or anything but sleep for that matter.

7.  I have so many good friends (okay, five) at the Center these days that I often feel torn and guilty that I don’t have more time for them (I barely have any for myself).

8.  I’ve been doing reading therapy per my counselor for Adult Children of Alcoholics, via ‘Women Who Love Too Much’.  It’s deep, but so “me”.

9.  I have committed to learning Latin, and have started vocabulary; books are on the way.

10.  I made my first Amazon order in over a year!!  Such joy!

11.  the whistling man across the hall is going to drive me crazy for REAL.

12.  I saw my sister’s wedding invitation yesterday – Kelly brought it to visitation.  It’s beautiful, and makes me more sad I’ll be missing her wedding.

13.  The wedding is June 10, the day after my birthday.  I’ll turn 30 in prison and miss her wedding within 24 hours of each other.  At least the pain will be contained to the same time period.

16.  The immigration protest in Atlanta today is crazy.

17.  I really and truly miss my friends.

18.  I am truly sick and tired of living with the type of people I have to live with.

19.  I have become the Center seamstress, sewing shirts and cute things for residents using ‘borrowed’ contraband needle, thread and assorted fabric scraps from cut up clothing.

20.  I got out of 3:30 a.m. kitchen duty Saturday, and got to have French toast.

21.  Mike has been hired as a VP of a local company, so I can stop sweating about him possibly transferring.

23.  I am hormonal and craving things I have no remote possibility of obtaining.

24.  I am missing the Dogwood Festival near my house.  Again.

25.  our last creative writing class was held in the sunshine Saturday.  We read our ‘published’ book of our work and enjoyed a nice bonding session.

26.  an officer actually laughed in my face last week, because I was ‘doing right’.  As in, following the rules.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

 

 1.  I nearly lost my mind on someone this a.m. – not an officer, but close enough.

2.  I almost got a DR (bad, bad thing) because of said incident, and rightfully, I deserved it this time.

3.  I stayed upset (and teary-eyed) until about 2 hours ago over that ordeal and the stress of these officers and this program.

4.  Kelly, Mike and Eric have sent me amazing, uplifting emails to overcome the whole thing.

5.  I should get books today!!

6.  I got little sleep last night.  I forgot to take my stomach meds that make me sleepy (I fear a slight addiction to sleep aid) and Moo had kitchen detail at 3:30 a.m. and was not quiet from then until I got up at 6:15 a.m.

7.  Mike and I had great email session today, expressing our cares for each other.  I miss him.

8. As long as my probation officer approves it, we will be in St. Louis on September 9 for Rams/Broncos football home opener!!!

9.  The song “It’s so hard to say goodbye” by Boyz II Men is on my LaunchCast.  It was my and my boyfriend’s song my 9th grade year.  I can’t believe what a depressing song/video we picked.  I still like the song, though.

10.  Shon was in lockdown last week in preparation to go home the next day, and they pulled her parole papers until further notice.  She either has a county hold (probably not) or they did indeed mess up her paperwork.  She’s crushed, severely.

11.  I love the talking gecko on Geico.

12.  I am addicted to “Prison Break” still, and I love Wentworth Miller.  He is MY perfect man (ha ha).

13.  I think I may have gotten an infraction last night (lesser than a DR).  I’ve been here 5 months without one, as easy as they are to get.  The officer said she thinks it was me, and that it was just ‘for good measure’.  I should find out tonight if I did.  I will be angry if I did.

14.  Rumor has it we’re having a cookout at the center tomorrow.  Strange.

15.  My attention span is next to nothing today.

 

All About The Incident

Here’s what happened this morning (copy and pasted from an email to Kelly):

 

Don’t be mad…

 

But for real for real, I think I reached my breaking point this morning.  I even got served a DR, but Ms. Calvert(my counselor) saw to it that it got torn up and thrown out, so it’s like it never existed.

 

I hit a fit of rage like I never have before this morning.  I went up at 7 a.m. to get my T&I (money), and Ms. Martin said, “Settlemoir, I’m going to kill you.  You aren’t getting T&I, and I’m going to show you why.”  She flipped over to where I signed the book for my T&I (you designate how much money you want and sign your name next to it).  I am looking at her blankly because I did not understand the problem – my signature was right next to my dollar amount, etc.

 

Apparently Ms. Coleman, the business manager, felt that my signature was printed, not signed.  Now you know how my signature is – it’s half printed-looking, half cursive-looking.  It was my regular signature that I sign for EVERYTHING, even back when I got T&I regularly, it was the same signature.  Ms. Martin was very nice about it (I like her), and said hold on, she’d get Ms. Coleman to check it out.

 

Ms. Coleman came over (I do NOT like her) and said point blank she won’t give me my money.  I tried to explain to her that that is my regular signature, it’s not printed, that It’s  how I sign everything.  She said it was ‘very, very close to a signature, but not close enough’, and that’s when I lost it.  She asked me for something with my legal signature on it, and I said (maybe a little too sarcastically), “what do you want, my driver’s license or a credit card?” because obviously, we don’t HAVE anything with a legal signature on it that we carry (I was already signed out to go to work).  She started yelling at me full on (and this is in front of about 15 residents standing in line wanting their money), and so I just started saying ‘yes ma’am, yes ma’am’ trying to maintain my composure and walk away from the whole thing.  That’s when she got really mad and wrote me a DR for insubordination and failure to follow (the catch-all DRs).

 

Ms. Calvert was in the CO booth, so I told her I needed to talk to her before I leave for work.  I was explaining the situation to her, and she said there wasn’t anything she could do in regards to the money, because the same thing happened to about 5 residents last week, that I just need to make sure my signature is ALL cursive, even if its altering my signature.  That’s fine, but I was really upset about the whole thing.

 

I explained to her about the confrontation, and Ms. Coleman came over to serve me the DR in the meantime, and Ms. Calvert vetoed her and said there would be no DR, and that I am a good resident caught up in an institution that gives me no incentive to always do right because it comes back on me.  Ms. Coleman just glared at me, and I think the only reason she backed down and agreed to not serve it was because she’s already in enough trouble with the Center (I’ll tell you about that later).  So she handed it to me so that I could personally tear it up.  It makes me wonder how she’s going to treat me and making sure I get what I need from now on because of this.

 

I had an appointment to see Ms. Calvert tomorrow night anyway, so I am going to unload my frustrations on her.  You know how girls are – they cry (against their will) when they are mad/angry, and that just made me madder.  I went back to my room to make sure I took my blood pressure meds because I’m going to need them today, and I walked in the room, saw it was empty and threw my bag and jacket across the room at the windows/wall, then I kicked my locker.  It felt a little better.  But my eyes keep watering because I am SO #$%*ing mad.

 

So that’s that.  Now, the issue at hand.  Um, … I need money.  I had given Ms. Calvert $13 of my money you brought this week for my medical expenses (med refills) yesterday, so I won’t have enough to get through the week.  Is there anyway you or Rae could take money by to LA at Xpress Lube again?  I really hate to ask, but I don’t know what else to do.  She’ll be there until 3 p.m. tonight and I think 6 p.m. tomorrow.  I think I could manage until tomorrow night if needed without money.  I’m so sorry.  It makes no sense that I am a working resident and can’t even get my own money to survive.

 

I was going to sneak in a phone call to you this a.m. from here, but I thought better against it since talking about it will probably just keep getting me upset again.

 

This is the email that was sent back to me from Kelly:

Don’t be sorry at me, lady. I’m sorry you have to go through that kind of stupitity and that that b**ch still breathes, but you know how I get when they mess with you…How much do you need?...$20, $30, $40, $1000?...Well $1000 might be a little difficult for LA to get back in… : )  I’ve said it and I know I’ll have to keep saying it, but do not stress about me…if you need it, you ask for it, you get it. I will always get you the things you need, and have yet to have to veto anything you wanted. I can go over to see LA about 12:30…. Smile

 

As a side note, his reply sort of shakes me back to yesterday’s blog.  Weird.

 

Here is what Eric had to say:

Your guards only get respect at work. They don't get the consumer, economic + business respect that you get. This is their own little way at getting back at the man (the woman - that your represent).   Hang in there Babe. Your crew is waiting for you.  What day in Aug is your release?

 

I know some pretty cool people if I do say so myself.  They love me.  They care about me.  They remind me that this too shall pass, and that a year from now, this won’t even matter.  Sure won’t.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

 

1.  the Jack Johnson artist station on LaunchCast is keeping me sane.

2.  I am much calmer and even-keel today, back to ‘my old self’.

3.  I am scheduled to see my counselor this evening for various reasons, but I intend to unload my frustrations of life at the center on her.

4.  I got books last night!  As soon as we got in the center, I looked in the CO booth, and there was the Amazon box with the smileys on all sides!!

5.  I love the Latin language and am going to have fun learning it.

6.  I did NOT get an infraction this week – woo hoo!!

7.  I brought a bagel from the cafeteria across the street.  I am saving it as an afternoon snack, but I want to eat it NOW.

8.  I got money yesterday courtesy of Kelly and LA.

9.  I love my Tenli.  We sit out at yard call/smoke break for at least 30 minutes every night and share music (we have the same tastes) and talk deeply about everything and nothing.

10.  I miscounted the other day – I am down to 139 days and a wake up.

11.  I got to ride the bus with Missy and LA last night.

12.  Dave Matthew’s “Ants Go Marching” always lifts me up and puts me in an ultra-good mood.

13.  my journaling has turned into a bunch of lists.  I guess its better than nothing that it has been.

14.  I miss the gym so much my eyes water when I think about it.

15.  I miss healthy, clean, unprocessed food more than I can put words to.

16. The two things I have craved consistently my entire sentence are Pizza Hut deep dish pepperoni pizza with extra sauce and sushi (especially Japanese bagel rolls).

17.  I just saw the new $10 bills for the first time this a.m., and it’s cool, but it freaked me out at first.  Gayle had to explain to me what’s going on with them.

18.  Mike and I are working on Operation HoneyBakedHam Drop.

19.  Michael Buble is so very good for my soul, too.

20.  I have had a headache every single day this week.

21.  this work day won’t end quick enough.

22.  I think Eric is visiting again this month since last month’s visit was way short.

23.  He’s been cracking me up today with his witty emails.

24.  Governor Perdue is being sued by the previous Governor in a class action lawsuit over requiring an ID to vote (it’s a crazy lawsuit in my humble opinion).

25.  a girl at the Center was wondering if I knew her friend that interned here at the Capitol.  She described him as a ‘white dorky guy’.  I tried to keep a straight face and tell her ALL interns here are white dorky guys…

 

-------------------------------

Friday, April 14, 2006

 

It’s a Brand New Day

I am feeling rather refreshed and renewed today.  My attitude has completely turned around, and that’s a good thing.

 

I was in a worse mood last night than I was the day before with the DR incident.  It’s like the full moon created more challenges for me.  Everything that irritates me was out to get me.  I was in a good mood when I left work.  It’s getting on the #32 bus that deteriorates things quick.  I HATE that bus.  For one, it takes me to the Center, which is depressing enough in itself.  I am a normal person until I hit the #32, then I become a resident inmate again.  Second, its full of other resident inmates (anywhere from 2-20 other residents), and believe me when I say there are few residents that are ‘like me’.  Most seem to have little to no home training, are loud and ghetto, and scream and act ridiculous for the entire hour ride to The Center.

 

One girl had the nerve to say to me awhile back that the bus bothered me so much because I am usually the only white girl on there.  That isn’t even an issue – it’s the way my fellow residents behave on the bus that gets to me.  I’m sick of the white girl comments, believe me.  Even when the other white residents ride, they act as ghetto and loud and obnoxious as all the other girls.  So, whatever.

 

Anyway, about 15 of us rode back, and the bus was WAY over capacity as the previous bus was broke down, so it was a miserable ride.  We got to the center only to find no officer was there for shakedown, then one of the girls tried to sneak in clothing she had stolen from her job (Value Village) and we had to wait while the paperwork was drawn up.  All the while the residents who were in the center were enjoying the spring cookout and ice cream social while we stood in line for over an hour.

 

Once released, I had to tear off to the other building to see Ms. Calvert, my counselor.  I grabbed a plate on the way down to hold until I was done with her.  I sat down there waiting for 45  minutes, but had to give up the wait at count time because the office forced me to go back to my room for count.  Yes, I was fuming after all I went through thus far to see Ms. Calvert, and its nearly impossible to get out of the building on the second shift.

 

Miraculously, I got out, and Ms. Calvert finally saw me around 7:15 p.m.  It was a good session made worth it.  We did some counseling, I vented my frustrations and got business taken care of.  I, for the moment have permission to take my Latin book in and out of the center so I can read it on the bus and at work at lunch.  We’ll see how long it lasts before the officers put a stop to it (just because they can).

 

I also got my roll out slip for Tuesday a.m. to go to Grady.  I will leave the Center at 5:05 a.m. and get there to wait in the looooong line.  I have to get my “I’m poor” card, then wait to see a doctor for my regular meds.  Then I can go to work from there if there’s enough time.  Then I have to go back the following day to pick up my Rx, take it back to the center, then return to work if there’s enough time.  Sheesh.  THEN, I will get an actual appointment, probably for the following week, to see the breast doctor or whatever they are going to do.  At least it’s in the works.

 

The Final T&I Deal

Okay, this is ridiculous.  Ms. Calvert gave me the final outcome of the T&I situation from Wednesday.  Ms. Coleman, the business manager that threatened me with the DR, came back to Ms. Calvert Wednesday after I left and said that they could probably just go ahead and give me the money.  I am not sure what changed, but that’s weird.  So she went to Ms. Martin, the assistant, and told her to give me the money.  Ms. Martin reminded her they can’t because they didn’t withdraw the money from the bank.

 

Ms. Coleman told Ms. Calvert that, and said they would make arrangements to get money to me.  But Ms. Calvert said not to hold my breath on that.  What I can’t figure out is, what happened that one minute she wants to serve me a DR and can’t figure out why I’m upset, and the next she is bending over backwards and trying to do what’s right?  Whatever.  The whole thing is in the past as far as I’m concerned.

 

Positive Vibes Are All Around

Today is a whole different day.  I’ve been in a good mood all day (and Gayle is out, hence the reason I am able to put together such a lengthy blog update).  I wasn’t sleepy at my usual bedtime, so I laid in bed for an hour or so listening to my headphones, and the songs that came on instantly picked me up (one was “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield).  It helped me to wake up in a good mood.  I swear that music has made all the difference in the world the last 9.5 months.

 

1.  Kay just had another talk with me when I went to turn in my timesheet.  She and Gayle and I are going to meet with me next week or so to discuss my future, my career goals, wants/needs, etc., because they are working so hard to find a way to keep me since I am so personable and a perfect fit for the department.  The one thing that works against me is that its an election year and they aren’t sure how that affects the hiring process, but I’ve got a lot of people working on my side : )  And of course if the chief of staff can’t approve the department to keep me, they are going to go to the other agencies on my behalf.  She said with confidence that I am going to have a job when I leave the center, even if it isn’t constituent service.

 

2.  My roommates have been really super, extra great the last few weeks.  Things just meld.  Yeah, there’s always going to be some issues and such, but nothing we can’t live with.

 

3.  Tenli sent me the nicest email yesterday:

look i just want to tell you something...no quote today just a lil heart felt funny motion... you are seriously one of my best friends.. i enjoy our time together so much if nothing good ever came out of this  (and you know what this i'm talking about) i know that i've found a friend for life and i'm so grateful for that thank you for all that you are really... and all that you give to me in your friendship,

 

i love you

10-10

 

4.  As most of you know, I am a HUGE fan of Rhapsody Player, but my very economical subscription to Yahoo! LaunchCast includes their Unlimited music thing that is comparable.  I was not open minded to it in the beginning because of Rhapsody, but I’ve figured it out, and we have decided to meet in the middle and call a truce.  I have spent an hour or so building really fun playlists, which I love.  I am a little disappointed in no Dave Matthews, and limited Janet Jackson and Tim McGraw.  Everything else seems okay so far.

 

5.  No World of Work group tonight – HOORAY!  This group goes from 6-9 p.m. every Friday, and it’s a good group, but hard to maintain every week after working all day.  I am going to enjoy having a week off.

 

Plans for the Weekend

They are simple as usual.  Sleeping until 8 a.m. tomorrow.  Doing some reading (lots of that I hope), writing, drawing, studying… whatever floats my boat.  This is a self-prescribed ME ME ME weekend.  No guilt about letters that need to be written or things that have slipped through the cracks.  This was discussed with Ms. Calvert and ordered.  I also intend to enjoy as many yard calls as possible – hopefully do some walking, reading outside, and enjoying Organic X outside Sunday morning.  Kelly is coming to visit at some point this weekend, which is always good.  I’m sure we’ll probably have turkey or something for the Easter holiday.

 

Feel Good Song of the Day

This song has been with me a very long, long time… it has been a staple in my car CD player since circa 2001.  And it fits, considering the burden of my current circumstances.  I am still always good natured and uplifted most of the time, but the dark cloud of incarceration still follows me.

 

I look up to the little bird

That glides across the sky

He sings the clearest melody

It makes me want to cry

It makes me want to sit right down

And cry cry cry

 

I walk along the city streets

So dark with rage and fear

And i...

I wish that I could be that bird

And fly away from here

I wish I had the wings to fly away from here

 

But my my I feel so low

My my where do I go?

My my what do I know?

My my we reap what we sow

They always said that you knew best

But this little bird’s fallen out of that nest now

I’ve got a feeling that it might have been blessed

So I’ve just got to put these wings to test

 

For I am just a troubled soul

Who’s weighted...

Weighted to the ground

Give me the strength to carry on

Till I can lay this burden down

Give me the strength to lay this burden down

Down down yea

Give me the strength to lay it down

 

“Little Bird”

Annie Lennox

 Monday, April 17, 2006

 

1.  I’m glad my day has improved significantly, because it sure didn’t start off good.  Moo woke up fussy and in a bad mood, and went to bed last night mad at LA.  Long drama story, and I hate having to hear about it all the time.

2.  Also had to argue with the officer this a.m. trying to sign out for work.  The girl behind me was vacuuming and she didn’t hear me ask for permission to speak, so we stood there and argued about whether or not I asked for permission.

3. I think the bottom line is I’m just tired of living this way, and always doing the right thing but still getting in trouble.  I feel the “I don’t care anymore” attitude setting.  Not enough to get me in serious trouble, but why should I stress about doing the right thing all the time when it doesn’t even matter when I do?

4.  My day was made better when I saw Mike standing at my MARTA station waiting for me.  It’s been too long since I’ve seen him, and he looked good in his jacket!  We had a quick breakfast and he gave me the 20 lbs. (no exaggeration) full of food – HoneyBaked Ham, scalloped potatoes, green beans, corn, salt/pepper, plates and utensils, and FOUR kinds of mustard.  He set me up real nice!  It was just good to visit with him for a minute.  It turned my whole day around.

5.  The weekend was okay.  I ate really good Saturday.  An officer brought a philly cheesesteak and fries for Moo, and she gave me half.  Then LA brought a Wendy’s hamburger in for me for dinner.  THEN maintenance and their girlfriends got an officer to get Pizza Hut for about 10 of us late Saturday night.  That was good, but a real weird situation.  Well worth my $10!!  First time in over a year I had pizza!

6. my weekend otherwise was very relaxed.  I’ve been reading “The Da Vinci Code”, which I’m loving, I studied my Latin, and Kelly visited Sunday.

7.  I had an interesting bus ride home Friday.  A very nice, professional, well put-together man sat next to me, and we actually had an intelligent conversation about urban development.  I am not used to talking to an actual intelligent gentleman on this bus.  I didn’t realize how good looking he was until he got up to get off the bus.  I am hoping to see him again… and that feels really icky, because I am not looking for any fling or anything like that... but to speak to someone who lives in the real world... I could really use more of that.

8.  I also talked to Eric Friday.  He said to try calling him again when I get a chance (this was only the second time I’ve talked to him).  It was a bit of a weird convo.  I’ll explain the situation later.

9. Tenli offered FREE tickets (good ones, too!) to go see Dave Matthews in Virginia Beach on 

10.  I got to see Michael J. Fox on Dateline last night.  He is still one of my most favorites.

11.  I just ate lunch with Gayle – the Easter dinner was fantastic!  I am so full and so miserable (in a good way!).

12.  I don’t usually have allergy issues, but they are out of control today.  My head is pounding.

13.  Moo has started watching television with it turned up loud.  This is going to have to stop before I kill her.  Or LA might first.

14.  I am going to Grady Hospital to get my medical card and to wait all day to see a doctor.  I told Mike to look for me.  I will be in the Urgent Care section amongst the homeless.

15.  I am going to write a letter to Ms. Campbell, the superintendent of the Center, and tell her what’s on my mind.  The first letter is a vent letter, purely for my personal sake.  The revised vision MIGHT be given to her.  She’s retiring next year and has one foot out the door, and I’m not sure if it’ll do any real good, just make me feel better.  Regardless, all my info will be given to the Commissioner in the next few months.

16.  I have 135 days and a wake up, or a little over 19 weeks left.  I can do this.  I know I can.

 

-----------------------------

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

 

1.  spent my entire day at Grady Hospital yesterday.  It was painful except I got to spend time with mike, who patiently waited with me all day.

2.  I make so little money, I am one step above indigent.  They don’t charge me a dime for my healthcare except a $2 co-pay for prescriptions.

3.  It was like a sitcom – you stand in line for 15 minutes just waiting to get a number.  Then you sit for over FOUR hours waiting just to DROP OFF your prescription.  My number was finally called, and I saw a man at the counter for roughly 3 minutes to drop off the prescription.  It would’ve taken another 2-3 hour wait to pick it up, so I hopefully go back tomorrow to get them.

4.  I am really tired of depending on everyone for my needs.  Not because they aren’t dependable (they are SO VERY dependable!!!), but because I am tired of being a burden.  And not because they make me feel that way – I just feel that way.

5.  Tension in my room is mounting.  Moo sported some attitude toward LA the last two days, so LA has been aloof in return, and now Moo can’t figure out why.  Seems they are in a bit of a quandary with each other, and the room has shifted for good, I fear.  Soon, we’ll all just be existing in a room.  Except LA and I don’t have these kinds of issues with each other.

7.  I took the best nap ever (as a result of a long day at Grady and pounding headace) from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. last night.  It was great.

8.  I got a letter from my good pal Sherry.  She was in Diagnostics with me.  She is hopefully coming to the Center in June-ish.  She always makes me laugh.

9.  My heart was in my throat this morning when I sat down to eat breakfast at the State Building, and a group of 6 or so correctional officers sat down two tables away.  Fortunately, none of them were familiar.

11.  I’ve had a hard time deciding on my music mood today.

12.  Kelly says my 90 day mark is June 4.

13.  I miss my mom, my sister and my brother more than I can put words to.  And I’ve not been in contact with them.

14.  I received a personalized letter from Partakers, Inc. Monday night.  I’m excited about their organization.

15.  I managed to find some Cigar Store Indians on my Yahoo music player thingy.

 

------------------------------

Friday, April 21, 2006

 

1.  Got my Rx’s out of the way yesterday and missed work completely again (thanks to the officer on duty).

2.  I am trying out James Blunt on my Yahoo player.

3.  My blog Premium expired and I have, like, zero readers right now : (

4.  My most super good friend, Missy, had her biopsy yesterday.  Since I just happened to be at Grady anyway, her counselor asked me to stay with her for support.  I’m glad I could, because the girl was freaking out. Her mother passed away from breast cancer three years ago, so first of all, hospitals freak her out because of association.  Second, it’s two lumps in her breast they are worried about, and obviously she has a family history of breast cancer.  She was an emotional wreck.  The officer on duty gave me a hard time about staying at the hospital (even with a counselor there!), but Ms. Robinson demanded that I stay since Missy needed me.  I’m just glad I could be there for her.  She won’t get the results until next Thursday.

5.  There is a beautiful, tiny moth on my outside window, just hanging out.  I still have a childhood belief that they are good luck.

6.  I am kind of glad for a long weekend (Confederate state holiday Monday).  I could use the time to just be.

7.  I am ready for World of Work to be over – we have graduation practice Saturday morning and Wednesday night, then graduate Friday night.

8.  Peace has been restored in our room.  We decided Moo gets really REALLY bitchy around ‘that time of the month’ – usually the week before, the week during and the week after.  That leaves us with one good week.  This week is not our week.

9.  We just had Oreo ice cream cake for breakfast.  It was so good.

10.  We had yet another escape this week – she went to work and decided not to come back.  Who could blame her.

12.  Kelly just sent my package.  It’s definitely over the weight limit, but we’re hoping it slides by through my counselor.  We’re both really sick of this.  Really, really sick.  I am aggravated enough to grow some balls and write the letters to the superintendent (who is retiring and could really careless).  It’s not like I fear them treating me poorly – they already do that.

 

-----------------------------

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

 

1.  it is so good to be back at work, you just don’t know.

2.  I had my last World of Work group Friday, thank Buddha.  It was okay, though.  I learned about humanity and humility.  A girl I haven’t gotten along with so well thus far shared news that her father was on his death bed and that she would be visiting him the next day (probably the last time).  She had a hard time pulling herself together, and of course all I could think about was my own father.  I followed her to the bathroom to hug her, and the girl collapsed on me.  I just held her tight and cried with her.  It was nice to be able to do that for her.

3.  after much stress and doubt, I got my package Saturday night.  I finally have good towels, good summer clothes and much needed personals.  Rae and Kelly did such an awesome job!  I cannot stress how vital these packages are to our existence!

4.  I also got my first infraction Sunday morning.  Maybe.  Probably.  I somehow slept through detail time on Sunday morning (I was supposed to clean the front lobby around 6 a.m.).  Sgt. Thompson saw me around 9:30 a.m. or so and said she was going to write me an infraction.  Yep, I was surely disappointed in myself but at least I earned my first one properly.  She may not have written, but she probably did.  Worst that will happen is I won’t be able to go shopping Saturday and maybe an extra detail or two.  Infractions don’t mean much.  I’m just disappointed to have gone 6 months without one and to now have one.

5.  OrganicX on 99X was great this weekend – it was an all 90s weekend.

6.  Prison Break was fantastic last night.  I am so in love with Wentworth Miller.  I am sure that I have mentioned this numerous times before.

7.  Moo is sort of a ticking time bomb, and we’re not sure what to do with her these days.  She has gotten herself in a bit of a pickle, but chooses to keep her blinders on.  Ah, the beauty of rose-colored glasses.

8.  I gave Missy a very nice ‘you’re one of my greatest friends’ letter this weekend. I wrote it Thursday after her appointment.

9.  Latin is starting to make some sense.  It’s crazier to learn than Spanish was.  But I love it.

10.  Yesterday would’ve been a great day to watch my favorite DVDs all day  - The Whole Nine Yards, Grosse Point Blank, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Twister, Fight Club, The Sweetest Thing.  I could go on and on.

 

 Eternally Grateful...

And so… imagine my surprise to come back today and find I have blog premium again!  You guys are so overwhelming and kind.  What would I do without you?  I am so grateful for the gift of premium.  I am not going to name names because I am not sure if they want to remain anonymous, but thank you.  You know who you are, and you are so dear to me.  You really are.  My heart swells when I think about my dear friends and the friendship we’ve built over the years.  You all have seen me through my darkest days.  Thank you all for your continued support and love.  I hope that someday I am able to do for you all what you do for me.

 

It is SO good to be back at work.  I had a long weekend because here in the south, at least in Georgia, we apparently celebrate a little-known State Holiday called Confederate Day (or something like that).  So I was informed late Friday that our office would be closed.  It sounded like a good thing Friday afternoon when I was tired.  But by early yesterday morning, I was more than ready to get back to work.  Three days in a row stuck in that center are way too much.  If I were at home, it would be different.

 

I imagine today will be a heavy mail day since there was no mail yesterday.  I’m content with being at work today.  I just wish I could get that man across the hall to stop whistling ALL DAY!!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

 

1.  today has been a real laid-back day since Gayle is out, so I’ve gotten a lot of work done.  It’s been great.

2.  A small dark cloud has been hovering today.  I did indeed receive that infraction.  I managed to go almost 6 months without one, so its disappointing to have finally gotten one.  I deserved it, though.  I think this is a sure sign I am way too hard on myself, as its near impossible to not get one at some point, and its really not THAT big of a deal.  Honestly, I am more upset that this means I can’t go shopping tomorrow, and I have to do two extra details by Monday evening.  Most people get a warning on their first, second, sometimes third one.  But not me – they like to be extra hard on the good kids and give us details. Cest la vie.

3.  We had final practice for our graduation tomorrow night.  What a freakin’ mess.  I mean, it’s not rocket science, but they sure have to act like it.  It should be nice enough, though.  After those three hours of pure hell, I was almost tempted to just ask for my certificate and bow out of the graduation (you can do that).  But I’m being a sport, and besides, I have to read the letter from the Governor.

4.  I had the VERY rare opportunity to chat with my blog friend Brian online today.  I sure miss him and our discussions.  It’s almost like time never stopped.  Except that I’m in prison and he’s married.  LOL

5.  I called the parole computer for Shon today, and was giddy with relief when I found out her temporary release date has been set for May 10.  That’s in less than two weeks!  I just mailed her a letter to tell her in case her counselor hasn’t told her yet!  I’m so close to seeing her again.

6.  My friend Missy has her doctor appointment in an hour to get the results of her biopsy.  I am very antsy, and wishing I could sneak over there to be with her.  I just want her to be okay.  My fingers and toes are crossed, and I’ve said many a prayer on her behalf.

7.  It really scares me that the only time our facility gets truly cleaned is when we get word that the warden, our superintendent’s boss, is visiting for inspection.  We have detail times twice a day (a.m. and p.m.) when we have to clean (each person is assigned a detail once a week, i.e. I have to clean the lobby on Sundays) and they sometimes get checked by an officer.  Only the obvious stuff gets checked, and its no lie that prisoners can be very lazy when it comes down to this stuff.  So Ms. Campbell gets word that the Warden is coming today, and goes nuts.  We were all up until nearly 1 a.m., forced to do details over and over again.  No phone, no leisure, no nothing.  No sleep!  Some people were up all night doing details.  It was ridiculous. 

8.  Our business office has been messing up what little money we get.  They gave someone else’s check to my roommate, LA.  What’s next?

9.  Yahoo! Music Engine with LaunchCast has been my lifesaver.  I am so in love with the Michael Buble fan station.

10.  I have become active on Prison Talk Online (PTO) again.  I used them as a source the week before I was incarcerated to get info about prison.

11.  LA made my day yesterday – I came ‘home’ to find my bed made already (yesterday was bed linen wash day).  Not only that, she washed my sheets for me instead of me having to send them out with the institution wash, so they smelled fresh and clean.

12.  sometimes this whole prison experience seems very surreal, like it’s a dream.

13.  I am very scared about money and employment when I leave here.

14.  It’s all going to be okay : )

15.  Did I mention I love Wentworth Miller?

 

------------------------------

Friday, April 28, 2006

 

1.  we are preparing the Capitol for an immigration rally Monday.  There will be an estimated 65,000+ participants.  This ought to be interesting.

2.  False alarm on Missy yesterday.  She gets her results next Thursday.  She’s holding up pretty good.

3.  I was very social last night – got some time with Tenli and Michelle.  Even did a little yard call.

4.  Tenli got a card from her Billy Bob (guyfriend at the men’s transitional center).  So very cheesy (but kinda cute).

5.  I’m a goddess!!  LOL.  The day I rode to Grady Hospital with Tenli, her Billy Bob and several other men from the center were also on the bus.  When I got off, one of the guys said “wow, she’s a goddess!” all cheesey-like, as they do in cheesey movies.  But Tenli said he was serious.  No thanks, I can't do the Billy Bob thing (Billy Bob is what they call the guys from the mens' transitional center that get in trouble with the girls over here).

6.  I am leaving at 3 p.m. today to prepare for tonight’s graduation.

7.  Moo and the officer she’s dating got into it last night.  The officer came storming into our room at Moo.  You can never tell when she’s kidding or not, so at first I thought she was kidding.  Well, in the ‘scuffle’, the officer scratched Moo’s forehead and left an icky scratch.  I fear at some point the officer (who can be borderline psycho) will eventually hit Moo.  I just don’t want to witness it and be put in a position.  Too much drama.

8.  I saw my counselor last night.  Had a good talk about the situation with my birth mother.  Vented about my infraction.  Got a shopping pass for the next few weeks to make up for the one I miss out on tomorrow.

9.  Got my 2 extra details taken care of.  Didn’t have to do them – above mentioned officer signed off on the paperwork for me : )

10.  One of the guys at the State Building where I get my breakfast goes out of his way to talk to me now.  It’s amusing.  I think he might have caught on to the fact that I’m work release.

12.  The lyrics to “Heaven” by Los Lonely Boys pretty much sums up things right now (and I forgot how much I love the catchy tune).

13.  They are really starting to panic about this rally/riot on Monday.

14.  I could really go for a strawberry smoothie from Smoothie King.

15.  Gayle is a prankster.  She was being funny this morning, trying to get Rob, the intern, to give me a personal tour of the Capitol.  I glared at her the whole time and tried not to laugh.

16.  Took in some great prison education/reform research yesterday.

17.  I could use a good nap.

 

---------------------------------

Monday, May 01, 2006

 

 1.  This day is very bizarre already.

2.  We have every officer, patrol person, cop, special unit, bomb squad, national guard personnel, Defense Force cadet and attack dog in the state surrounding the premises for Day without Immigrants rally.  The only thing missing is the immigrants.  There’s a couple hundred outside and the rally starts in 20 minutes.  Where’s the other 64,700?

3.  We are dealing with a threatening phone call, a guy say ‘we the people’ are going to do the job that the law enforcement isn’t doing…

4.  The Klan has threatened to make an appearance.

6.  Pat, one of the legal aides that just turned 72 but looks 40 just said the cutest thing:  I used to look for my knight in shining armor to roll up in a white Charger.  Now I just look for him to come up the hallway in a walker.

7.  I literally snuck out of the Center today.  The particular Sgt that was working likes to make us as miserable as she is, and if she’d realized I work at the Capitol where the rally is taking place, she would’ve made me stay in from work.

8.  I don’t want to stay in because they are in freak out mode over rumor that the Commissioner is visiting the Center, so it’s a mess of stress there.

9.  I find it amusing that they are serving chips and salsa in the ceremonial governor’s office upstairs in light of today’s events…

10  Wisconsin has blocks of streets worth of immigrants clogging up the works.  We have less than half a block.  Wisconsin, people!!

11.  Our IT guy is strange.  But I guess most are.

12.  someone sent a box full of different chilli powder mixes to the governor, so our office smells like food.  It makes me extremely hungry!

13.  Our World of Work graduation went great Friday night.  It felt like it was a mess, but Kelly said it looked good from the audience.  I’m officially done and have my Friday nights back!!

14.  I got to have a picture taken with Kelly and Missy.  I can’t wait to get it.

15.  My counselor came to see the graduation, and she brought my old creative writing teacher to see me.  It was a very sweet gesture.

16.  Had good talks with LA this weekend.

17.  The ‘rally’ was officially over at 1:30 p.m.

18.  I have a date with Wentworth Miller tonight (wink, wink)

 

-------------------------------------

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

 

1.  Prison Break was so good last night.  I don’t know what I’m going to do when the season ends.

2.  My weight gain is making me depressed.  I’ve never been this big in all my life.

3.  My Director would hire me as a marketing manager if she could.

4.  Mike is bringing me a yummy steak tomorrow!!  I just found out he’s bring lunch for Gayle, too.  He is too sweet.

5.  I am getting PMS-like.  It seems things are getting to me easier lately.

6.  Moo is getting on my nerves lately.  A lot.  Maybe it’s the PMS?  Or just tired of living with people in such close quarters.

7.  I’ve noticed I’ve become a lot more sensitive to noise since I’ve been incarcerated.

8.  LA has noticed the same thing about herself.

9.  I feel really sleepy since my sleep sucked last night (Moo got up at 3:30 a.m. for kitchen detail and decided to make noise).

10.  I had a conversation on the bus with another resident, one I didn’t even think knew my name.  Now she thinks we’re best friends (we’re not – she’s one you can’t trust and hangs out in my least-liked group of residents).

11.  I am going to start walking at night during yard call when I can.

12.  My sister knows how to surprise me and get to my heart – she sent an email that said:  I miss you. That’s all I had to say : )

13.  “Babylon” by David Gray is on.  Nothing gets me quite like this song does.

14.  Just found out that the caller from the threatening phone call we got yesterday got caught.  The idiot called here on a traceable number and is now in custody.

15.  We just got a letter from a girl housed at Fulton County Jail who is very upset with the conditions there.   I can relate.

16.  I could go for some real fish and chips right now.

18.  My counselor has me reading a book about co-dependency.  Sometimes it sucks when the truth about yourself slaps you in the face.

19.  I go home 4 months from yesterday (121 days and a wake up OR 17 weeks and 2 days).

20.  The photographer outside makes me envious.

21.  Two things I MUST buy when I leave:  a quality yet small and slim take-everywhere digital camera, and a pillow-top mattress.

22.  I’ve switched over to the Yahoo Power Ballad station for awhile.

23.  Kelly told me if I’d been approved to go home on pass, my mom was going to drive down and surprise me, and spend my pass with me.  That broke my heart.

24.  My sister emailed me back.  It’s such a relief to know she understands why my contact with her and the family have been next to none, and that she’s not mad.  It’s priceless.

25.  Eric says you can get Prison Break on your Sprint phone now.  Man, Wentworth Miller in my pocket!!

26.  The Commissioner just walked through.  I thought him into existence, because just 5 minutes prior, I was thinking I used to see him at least 3 times a week, and I haven’t seen him since the session ended March 30.

27.  In the shop across the hall, they sell bulk nuts, tropical fruit, yogurt pretzels and chocolate covered peanuts.  Yum.  And its surprisingly cheap.  It is what I live off of these days when I don’t eat a bagel for lunch.

 

---------------------------------

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

 

1.  Today has been a fantastic day.

2.  I turned over a new leaf last night and decided not to let this funk get the best of me.  I am not going to get depressed – I’m going to ride out these last 4 months in style.

3.  I walked (very fast) for 40 minutes last night listening to New World Spirits.  So good for the soul.

4.  Mike brought us lunch as promised – SO GOOD!  Gayle and I just devoured half a filet, veggies, smashed taters, bread and ceasar salad.  Dessert of three layer chocolate cake is soon to follow.  She loves him and doesn’t even know him.

5.  He is so kind.  He ‘broke news’ to me this a.m. that he is going to bring sushi for the week of my birthday (woo hoo!!) and that he’s going to bring me lunch once a week.  That will definitely give me something to look forward to every week.

6.  I do not know how I would’ve done prison time without my friends and family.  I just don’t.

7.  Gayle and I have been so chatty today that we haven’t gotten too much work done.  Opps.

8.  Today’s horoscope is kind of scary and on track:  Pay attention to your community. If offers you some real advantages for happiness. Your keywords for today are 'reinvention' and 'exploration.' It's time to examine your current role in life and ask yourself if it really suits you. Where do you want to go next? Who do you want to be? There's a bigger world out there. Today spend some time discovering how you fit in. Explore volunteer options, a side project or local government issues. Get more involved in the community around you even if it just means waving and smiling at your neighbors a little more often. A stronger sense of connectedness will create a calming effect on life and remind you that you're part of a whole wonderful world of ideas, philosophies and opportunities. You're a little too wrapped up in your own business to worry about anyone else's, but that doesn't mean you're going to be like this forever. Just let yourself come around naturally. A friend or family member might need a sympathetic ear, but you are just a little too preoccupied with your own issues to help out right now. You'll be there for them later, though.

9.  They have actually linked Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to ex-prisoners.  That explains our sensitivity to noise, I guess…

10.  I did over an hour’s worth of reading and studying and writing about co-dependency last night.  It’s hard being honest about all this, but I feel some relief coming.

11.  I am going to ask my counselor if I can keep work shoes here and wear my tennis shoes to and from work.  If so, I am going to run stairs on my lunch hour.

12.  We just ate dessert.  It was amazing.  We each ate half our cake and had to force ourselves to stop it was so good.  We have a full meal for tomorrow : )

13.  I decided to go with the Greatest Power Ballads station today.

14.  If I could just get Oliver across the main hall to STOP whistling, I’d be set.

15.  Somewhere in the chaos, I have found a nice pocket of peace.

Thursday, May 4, 2006

 

1.  Today is moving unbearably slow.

2.  Missy will be at the doctor’s office in the next hour to get her biopsy results.  I won’t find out until I return to the Center after 5 p.m.

3.  I’ve been moody – really moody – at the Center lately.  I am so tired of it.

4.  A girl I haven’t been able to stand since Day 1 (young, ghetto, cocky, inconsiderate, loud and a long list of negatives) challenged me last night to an argument.  I only gave in a little.  I am tired of my kindness being mistaken for weakness.  They know I’ll back down because I am trying to do this program well, and I’m not getting a DR for arguing with someone.  But she pushed me, and I gave in a little last night.  The T&I (money) like had about 150 people in it, I was near the front, and she cut in the line behind her friend – right in front of me.  Maybe if she’d asked me if it was okay, it would’ve been okay, but instead she looked square at me and told me to deal with it.  I was 38 hot (tee hee).  In the end, she ended up behind me somewhere in the line, but I was so mad.

5.  I forced myself to go out and walk last night for 30 minutes.  My legs are definitely sore.  I hope my shins are just sore, not actually aching.  That could be bad.

7.  Gayle and I just ate Day Two of our Bugaboo Creek lunch.  It was so good – just as good the second day!  Dessert in give or take an hour : )

8.  It’s onion day at the Capitol.  They are giving away huge bags of Vidalia onions.  They say you can eat them like an apple, but I don’t buy it…

9.  I left frustrated this morning after a small confrontation with Sgt. Thompson.  It has added to my frustration of having to be at the Center.

10.  I haven’t heard from Shon in two weeks because she doesn’t have access to postage.  I really miss her.

11.  I have only had one soda yesterday and Tuesday (and I tried that Coca-Cola Black thing).

12.  Most of this session’s interns leave today, and a new round start Monday.  We’ve already got ‘one of those’.  They hired a college freshman, who doesn’t sound too bright, just because his father was New Gingrich’s attorney.  Hmph.  Politics at its best.

13.  My neck is very stiff for whatever reason.

 

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 Friday, May 5, 2006

 

1.  I am only working 3.5 hours today… I only have 1.5 hours left.

2.  Went to Grady today for boob exam.  Things are okay – likely a hormonal issue, but I am going for a mammogram on the 19th just in case.

3.  They said my boob might be too dense because of my age… are they saying my boob is stupid?  Does boob knowledge come with age?

4.  I had a GREAT breakfast – McDonald’s, my old favorite.

5.  I had a healthy lunch of vegetable soup, baked chicken and jello (from the state building).

6.  My day at Grady was very long and boring.  I spent most of it sitting in the doc’s office waiting for the doc.

7.  Turns out I am going shopping tomorrow.  Ms. Calvert put in my shopping pass for me.  I am looking forward to it.

8.  I have decided to get Missy the new Pearl Jam CD to lift her spirits a little.

9.  Ms. Calvert (my counselor) said come June she is putting in the I’m-not-taking-no-for-an-answer fight with the superintendent to get me going home on pass.

10.  I have also been approved to bring my work shoes to work and wear my tennis shoes in and out : )

11.  Our fire alarm went off and forced us out of our beds at 11 p.m. last night because someone caught microwave popcorn on fire.  We were not amused…

12.  I forgot to post my blog yesterday.

13.  A girl at the Center intrigues me.  She is very smart, and very… just interesting.  I rode the bus with her this morning.  Hopefully I’ll get to know her better.

14.  I forgot to mention the most important news of all:  Missy’s biopsy results came back as being 80 to 90% positive that is NOT cancer, but they don’t know what it is.  They have to do outpatient surgery to remove the mass and run tests.  They need to make sure there isn’t cancer under or around it.  Whatever it is its rare.  She’s relieved, but very scared about the procedure.  If anyone would like to send a care card, her info is:  Michelle Allen, #828803, Metro Transitional Center, 1303 Constitution Road, Atlanta, GA  30316

15.  No one is working today.  We’re all here.  But none of us are working.

16.  I got some great ideas in Martha Stewart Living today in the waiting room.  I forgot how helpful Martha can be.  I have some GREAT recipes.  Can’t wait to cook!!

17.  Only 118 days and a wake up.

 

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Monday, May 08, 2006

 

1.  I’ve not had good bathroom luck this a.m.  First thing this morning, at the Center, I walked in on a girl in a stall. She had the nerve to be mad even though the door was open…. Then I get to work, walk into the bathroom (a single toilet room) and find that someone’s ‘morning constitutional’ was apparently too large and the toilet was filled with waste and toilet paper.  Niiiice.  I hope no one was eating when they read this…

2.  Apparently Moo is far more sensitive than I gave her credit for, and that comes as a relief.  We had a pretty big misunderstanding/fight this weekend.  I’ve not been what I call moody, but Moo has been kind of edgy lately.  Anyway, she picked up my CD player and was listening to it Saturday evening.  I thought she was going out the door.  My intention was to kindly ask her not to run down my batteries because it’s my only set (I live on my CD player – it is my sanity).  I guess it came out uglier than I meant, because she stopped talking to me completely.  I didn’t even notice until later that evening when I asked her a question and she said she wasn’t talking to me.  I had NO idea why at the time.  This continued all the way through Saturday night and Sunday, which I was in visitation so I didn’t have to be around her. 

 

I was a little hurt, but figured it could be her problem if she isn’t going to address me about it.  I came back from visitation to find a coupon for Duracell batteries on my pillow.  That’s when I figured out what she was mad about.  I talked to LA about it, and it turns out I did snap at her, and I really hurt her feelings.  She said it was really bothering her, in fact, LA hadn’t ever seen anything bother her this much.  I had no idea Moo cared about me and our friendship that much, but apparently she does.  That was touching.  So when she came in, she did confront me about it, and I apologized profusely (enough that it actually made my tears water because I felt so bad).  We worked it out, and all is well.  Better, even.  It helped that LA explained I was in a bit of a funk, which I was.  I guess some of my frustration of being her and Moo having gotten on my nerves came through at the moment.  But all is good now.

3.  I went on my first shopping pass Saturday and it was FANTASTIC!!  It was like I never left.  I hung out with Kelly, Rae and JP.  We went to Target, had lunch and shopped at Barnes & Noble.  The bookstore was… breathtaking.  I haven’t been in one in so long.  I was instantly calm. Time went way too quick, though, and I did not want to return to the Center.  It was a sad bus ride home.  If I do that once a month (unless they let me go home on pass) it will definitely make my time easier.  I think its more hard than anything to accept that I’ve been replaced.

6.  I got a great pair of cargo shorts.

7.  I got my haircolor kit, now I just have to have it approved.

9.  Today is new intern day.  Bunch of new dorks on board : )

10.  I managed to get out and walk Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  It’s slowly becoming a habit.

12.  I had a GREAT visit with Mike yesterday.

13.  Tonight is Prison Break.  I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do when the season ends.  It is part of my time countdown!

14.  I enjoyed a great cup of coffee from the state building today.

15.  I found this site to be REALLY cool:  www.creativitypool.com

 

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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

 

1.  Prison Break was SO good last night.  The Finale is next week.  I might cry.

2.  Moo and I have gotten along better than ever lately.

3.  She classifies for work release today.  I am proud of her.

4.  Tomorrow is Macaroni Grille lunch from Mike.  Yum!!

6.  I have discovered, via Kelly, my mailman is an idiot, and that explains the latest mail issues.

8.  I am very much enjoying the Jason Mraz listener station.  I tried the Seal station this morning, but it was too much Dave Koz and instrumental music.

9.  I am anxiously awaiting books to read this week : )

10.  Three residents were sent back last week because a new State law was just passed that sex offenders cannot be in transitional centers.  I have mixed feelings on that.

 

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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

 

1.  Food and grocery delivery complete.  Mike met me for breakfast.  Good time had by all.  It’s working – time is passing much quicker.  More importantly, I am getting quality time with Mike.

2.  If things are going as well as planned, Shon is free and on her way home as we speak.  I hope Kelly will get a call from her soon.  I can’t wait to see that girl.

3.  Also, Moo is classified and is in job search.

4.  I live in the best room at the Center (because of my roommates).

5.  Courtesy of Mike, Gayle and I have three different high-end teas to sample : )

6.  After I left yesterday, a man was open firing at the Fulton County Courthouse, just two blocks from me.  That’s scary.  I saw the helicopter circling the area but didn’t know why at the time.  No one was injured.

7.  Missy’s surgery is scheduled for May 25.  She’s not amused.

8.  Augustana and The Fray are really growing on me.

9.  Gayle and I just ate the Macaroni Grill lunch.  It was so good! As was the bonus Super Bleu Cheese!

10.  It is safe to say that on Wednesdays, Gayle and I eat better than our co-workers do all week : )

11.  I found a fellow jail/prison blogger, though he uses a different site.  I also emailed him to make contact.  If you want to check him out, his blog is pretty interesting – real talent for writing:  http://jonsjailjournal.blogspot.com/

12.  I like wearing my LiveStrong bracelet again.

14.  Maybe I am starting to like Yahoo’s thing better than Rhapsody.  It’s cheaper for one, and this ‘sounds like (insert artist here)’ thing is way cool.  I am hearing tons of music I like.

15.  There was a segment on Geraldo’s show the other night about a murder in Millstadt, Illinois, right outside my hometown.  Apparently a 26 year old teacher is accused of having an affair with a student, then later killing her and leaving her body in the woods in Belleville.  We used to have track meets at that girls high school all the time. And we used to go to festivals in that town, too.  It’s just kind of freaky being in Atlanta and hearing about such a tragedy so close to home.

16.  Also in St. Louis, I heard today about the little girl said to have been sexually assaulted and abused by 20 of her classmates. That’s VERY disturbing.

17.  Erin:  books this week include “Running With Scissors” (he stole my name!!) and “Dry”, both by Augusten Burroughs, “A Million Little Pieces” by James Frey, and another Latin book.  Apparently the last two won’t ship until mid/late-May.  Hmph.

18.  Gayle and I just indulged in dessert of Chocolate Ganacche Cake and Cheesecake with caramel and fudge.  It was so sinful and so good!  (there is no dessert left for tomorrow).

 

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Thursday, May 11, 2006

 

1.  I can’t believe how busy work is these days.  That’s a good thing.

2.  I have the Michael Buble sounds-like playlist going today.

3.  I rearranged the top of my desk yesterday.  It suits me.

4.  We have yet another house meeting tonight.  I’m so tired of these overly-negative meetings.  One girl was sent back yesterday because she signed out for work but met up with some guy instead, and another is going back today for similar doings.  I am sure that these two incidents plus the two recent ‘escapes’ will be the basis of this meeting.  I am dreading it.  It will be at least two hours long, and I’ll get to bed late.

5.  I have a fantastic weekend ahead of me – Kelly is visiting Saturday, and Sunday Moo and LA are both going home on pass so I will have 6 hours completely to myself in our room.  I can’t even imagine!!  Missy said I should sit in the corner naked just because I can : )  I would if we had locks, but everyone will probably be barging in anyway looking for Moo.

6.  I am holding ALL mail responsibilities today since Gayle is out.

7.  This ugly weather needs to move on.  I need spring.

8.  I am anxious to sample the Guacamole today…

9.  Most of our officers are negative, ugly-spirited and downright rude.  But there are two in particular that have given me consistent trouble because of where I work.  One of them was at the desk this a.m. when I went to sign out.  She said, “Who is it you work for again?”  I said, “Sonny Perdue.”  She said she wanted to know if I could have him call her directly sometime today because she has a serious problem she’d like to discuss with him.  Blink blink.  Blink.  I looked at her blankly, thinking she was being sarcastic.  Um, no.  She was serious.  I told her it doesn’t exactly work that way.  I said all issues go through legislative aides no matter how ‘severe’ they are.  I told her the best way is to write a letter. She asked for a fax number and I told her I would call her from work with the fax number and she could fax it instead.  She follows up with, “and I want it to go directly to him.  I don’t want it goin’ to no aides or assistants or nuttin’.”  Um, yeah, right.  I already know its probably going to be about their salary because that’s what she complained about the last time she said something about where I work.  It all left me scratching my head.  Little does she know that I’ll end up seeing the fax before anyone else : )  It’s my job.  At least this time around she wasn’t degrading me as usual.

10.  I couldn’t wait any longer.  I had some guacamole.  It was really good.  Zesty!

11.  I have just wolfed down a surprise lunch from Wolfgang Puck’s.  Kay and Angie went there for lunch and offered to bring back something for Kaleb and I, and who am I to say no to food?  I had the BBQ chicken sandwhich, which is tender chicken with tangy, sweet BBQ sauce on foccacia bread, topped with cheese, tomatoes and purple onions with a side of herb fries.  Must lunch there when I get out!!  It’s, like, BAM!

13.  I am rolling on the floor laughing (that would’ve been ROFL back in 1999) over the blog I mentioned yesterday.  It’s no laughing matter, what this guy’s incarceration entails, but it’s like reading an Augusten Burroughs book.  You shouldn’t laugh because its traumatic, but you must.  Turns out the guy is nicknamed English Shaun because he is British, and is doing time for money laundering and drug ringing.  He brought a rave-scene empire to Phoenix, AZ, and was eventually brought down.  Now he’s serving time in prison after having served two years in one of the country’s worst county jails.  http://jonsjailjournal.blogspot.com

Friday, May 12, 2006

 

1.  The Tazo Green Ginger tea is awesome.  It reminds me of Pho (Vietnamese soup).

2.  The inmate that works at the State building and serves me breakfast most mornings is going out of his way to say ‘good morning’ to me for sure.  I almost asked him is name this a.m. (I perhaps would’ve made a pen pal out of him), but a detail officer showed up.  Didn’t want to get him in trouble or blow my cover.  He seems very nice – polite and kind.  (and for those who worry – no, it wouldn’t be for romance purposes – not interested.  Pen pals are just to pass time with someone who can understand your circumstances and way of life).

3.  Moo is seriously in the doghouse this a.m.  Her officer/girlfriend worked our building last night, so she stayed up with the night crew and waxed and buffed floors.  That’s fine except she came in and out of the room and kept LA and I up all night.  At 3 a.m., we woke up to her turning the light on and clanging stuff around in her locker.  It’s 3 a.m.!! LA and I have to get up for work before 6 a.m.!!  To add insult to injury, LA asked her what she was doing, and she said, “I’m cleaning everything up now because I have a lay-in and I want to sleep straight through without them bothering me.”  What?!  You have to do this at 3 a.m.?  Never mind OUR sleep!!  (a lay-in means you get to stay in bed without doing details, duties, etc.  Even if a weekday is your day off, you usually have to clean and do work all day at the center, so its not really a day ‘off’ unless you have a lay-in).

4.  Still no books in the mail : (  Hopefully tonight.

5.  NO house meeting last night – woo hoo!!

6.  I’m quite upset and bothered by finding out my good friend Tenli has been losing weight the worst way (a finger down her throat).  I have to remember I’m helpless, can’t fix it, just have to be a friend.

7.  I haven’t heard from Shon yet.  I’m overly anxious.

8.  I got to walk last night for the first time since Saturday.  It was nice and needed.

9.  Gayle and I are about to indulge in Day Two of Macaroni Grill.

10.  Reading Shaun’s journal is making me think back to my last year or so.

11.  Gayle and I have had some amazing conversation today.  She’s a true friend.

12.  The roommates and I watched “Everybody Hates Chris” as usual and then we watched “My Name is Earl” for the very first time.  We died laughing our butts off.

13.  My spirits are up today.  I’m feeling back to my overly-optimistic self : )

14.  Having a great support system has a lot to do with it.  I know I have so many people that love and care about me.  I am so grateful.

15.  If you could hear Gayle and I debating and discussing hot topics today, you’d think we had the answers to everything (we really do).

16.  I actually did some real writing last night.  Reading Shaun’s blog inspires me.  I just wish I could maintain steam and stamina.  He’s amazing having drafted an entire book already.

17.  One of the new interns is a trust fund baby, and apparently his golf cart has the same power (not sure what he’s gauging) as a Dodge Neon.  Hmph.

19.  If they would just let me listen to my headphones on the bus (we can’t take stuff in and out of the center), my life and attitude would be SO much better.

 

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Monday, May 15, 2006

 1.  Oh my goddess.  Its really happening – Shon is at home, and she called Kelly to get my her phone number to me.  He just emailed me to tell me.  This day is going to go too slow.  For the first time ever, I am anxious to get back to the Center!!  I just can’t wait to hear her voice again.  Kelly said she sounded really sweet (because she is).  I just… I’m speechless.  I’ve been holding out for this call, and its finally here.

2.  The weekend was pretty good.  Kelly visited Saturday.  I had the room to myself for 6 hours yesterday, and it was fantastic.  I missed my roommates while they were gone, which I guess some would find weird, but I do enjoy them immensely.  I got a lot done.

3.  Kelly came with really bad news Saturday – his mom passed away May 1.  He just told me because he wanted to tell me in person, no over the phone or via email.  Needless to say, I was quite upset and my heartaches terribly.  I was very close to her, and have been for some years.  I’ll tell more about it later.  Kelly is doing okay.

4.  Sometimes working here is scary because it makes me realize how many truly crazy people are out wandering around among us.

5.  Moo’s been sweet lately.  She made me ‘dinner’ one night last week using some of the her privileged rice mix I don’t have access to, and yesterday when they left me to go on pass, she left me a big pack of tuna.  She really does care : )

6.  Her officer girlfriend, however, sort of made LA mad.  LA brought back a steak, potato, corn and key lime pie for me from pass.  The officer let her sneak it in, but asked if she had brought her any dinner.  LA felt obligated to give the food to her (I understood).  Well, later, the officer went out to get food for her and Moo, and never even ate the food LA brought.  So the only thing I got was some pie, which was good, too, but no one ended up eating the steak (a good ribeye).  LA was mad about that.

7.  Every month the same church comes to the Center and gives a birthday party for the entire center. It’s pretty nice – everyone gets a huge serving of desserts, ice cream, chips, snacks, etc., and the birthday folks receive a gift bag.  It is, however, extremely religious (lots of preaching and singing and praising).  I choose not to go every month – I’ve been once and not gone back.  I am forced to go to one group a week and ALL of our groups are Christian-based, so I choose to not participate in this extra.  Well, Saturday night the Sgt. On duty demanded that EVERY resident go.  Of course I know they can’t force you to go to these extra religious events, but she kept pushing.  I didn’t go, and nothing was said, but we were told those that were not listed on the sign out sheet will receive an infraction.  I dare her to try – I pick my battles, and this will be one of them.  I am not going to get in trouble for not participating in a religious event.  To be clear, I don't have a problem with religion at all.  I have a problem with people making me feel guilty for not believing in their faith or participating in such events.

8.  the bonus to not going is that the center was deserted and my hall was dead silent.  I caught a good nap : )

9.  This is very strange… I saw a girl I know with an address book that caught my eye.  The reason?  It was an address book I designed when I was still at Amtrec (the job I had prior to incarceration).  It freaked me out!!  That’s my design!  Then, as if that wasn’t weird, a girl had a different calendar/planner I designed this a.m.  I know it seems silly, but it was a big moment for me.  I wanted to share this info with them, but they would just look at me like I was crazy and assume I was lying.  I’ll just keep it for myself.

10.  I am building my own Organic X list on my Yahoo player.

11.  Speaking of, yesterday’s OX was fantastic!!

12.  Missy treated me to an apple cider and lime with shrimp soup.

 

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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

 

1.  Hmph.  No Shon yet.  I just got her voicemail last night like her phone was off.  I’m trying really hard to be patient.

2.  I got a great gift last night – Missy finally moved to A building, so she’s back in an actual room.  AND, she’s in a great room, just two doors down from me.  Finally!!  Now I’ll see her more often.

3.  Prison Break was so good last night – I can’t wait until next season.  What am I going to do without Wentworth Miller?!

4.  Gayle and I just decided Fat Matt’s Rib Shack is the menu for tomorrow.  I can’t wait!!

5.  I’ve decided to listen to hits from today… today.

6.  My sister sent me the sweetest card and I got it in the mail yesterday.  She loves me : )  It truly perked up my day.

7.  I’ve been sleeping really good the last few nights.  I’ve gone to bed exhausted.

8.  I listened to the President’s address last night.  I hope they stick with making new citizens learn English.  I think it’s only appropriate.

9.  I wonder if I have the guts to start my own non-profit someday.  I think I am definitely going to start another chapter of one, but to start my own from the ground up?  That’s scary.  I’ve never wanted had my own business, and it’s essentially the same thing.

10.  But there are needs, and Georgia doesn’t have the type of organization it needs.  It IS something I’m passionate about.

11.  Mailman was definitely returning my mail.  Kelly got some of my mail last night that had previously been ‘returned to sender’.  Niiiice.

12.  It is so hard to get close to people in prison, understand and know them as good, kind-hearted people, but know that when they leave they will be right back to doing drugs.

 

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

 

1.  I have been approved via my counselor and the assistant superintendent to go with Missy when she has her surgery on the 25th.  We are both happy about this, and work should be okay with it.

2.  Also, my Seester is the greatest – she sent Missy a nice little card (it totally made her day!!!).

3.  Lunch – Fat Matt’s – will be tomorrow.  Good timing, because I think there is a going-away luncheon for one of the security guys today.

4.  I went home and hibernated last night.  I wasn’t depressed, just wanted to wrap up on my bed and just be.  It’s been chilly this week, and that hasn’t helped.  I think the noise and the chaos are getting to me at the Center.

5.  I can’t reach Shon.  I think the number she gave me is voicemail only until she gets her phone set up.  I miss her, darn it!

6.  Gayle is continually shocked and appalled (in a good way) with what she learns about prison.  For instance, we have a mother and daughter together at the Center.  Both are in for drug trafficking (the daughter is only 22 and has already been in 4 years).  Also, she can’t believe people still continue to commit crimes past 50 years of age.  Shoot, I am locked up with many, many women in their 50s and 60s, and their crimes were committed within the last 3 years.  Age doesn’t make you stop doing what you know.

7.  I just met Roy Barnes!! (former Governor of Georgia)  We just had a HUGE luncheon for a security officer that has been here 27 years that is retiring this week.  We ate so good – ribs, chicken, mac n cheese, beens, casserole, salad, potatoes, cobbler, and so much more soul food.

8.  As usual, I am dreading the bus ride home and going back to the center. Grrrrr.

 

Kelly's mom, Peggy, passed away on May 1, 2006.  Her memorial service was held graveside on May 5, 2006.  I am very saddened by this loss, as Peggy and I were close for a number of years.  I wanted to leave my own little tribute, so here is what Kelly wrote for the Pastor to use in his memorial service.  Kelly did a good job of portraying how dear and important Peggy is to our hearts.  We'll always love you, Mama:

 

Peggy (mom) was in a word, Classy. From the beginning to the end, from the way she dressed, to the way she talked, to the way she cared for others and presented herself—she was classy.

 

She was an entrepreneur; business minded, rational and focused. She believed in making her own way and often said, “You’ll never get rich working for someone else. Even more so, you won’t be as happy working for someone as you would be being your own boss.”  She and her late former husband, Donald, raised a generation in a business they built in North Carolina. For over 25 years the doors of The Sound Side stood open and the town of Engelhard had a place where families could spend time together. During the week, children would roller-skate until they were exhausted on the 50ft rink, and on the weekends the adults would put on their best and dance the night away to the sounds of the live bands. However, with the good came the bad, and the business had it’s share of troublemakers. Peggy, of course, would not stand for the “shenanigans” of the troublemakers and after various other disciplinary attempts, was forced to ban them from building. Ten years later, though, her “tough love” would show its true purpose when those same troublemakers appeared on Peggy’s doorstep to show her their new baby and to thank her for being well, Ms. Peggy—as they all called her.

 

She had a quick wit, and a joke or funny anecdote for any situation. She had an uncanny ability to keep any crazy situation down to its core problem and still be able to see the big picture. She was a visionary and creator, but could also make those visions practical and bring them to life. She had an infectious smile and inspiring outlook on life. Even though the line comes from a movie, we can all hear her say, “Don’t take life too seriously, you’ll never get out alive.”  She loved her Lord and her family fiercely.

 

All those who had the pleasure of knowing Peggy loved her. They really didn’t have a choice. She reflected the very best in all of us, and in her special way, showed us how to fight and overcome the worst. She never did anything at half measure and all that she touched was left more beautiful.

 

Some will remember her as Peggy, some mom or mama, and some Nanna or Nanna-Noot. For over 60 years she touched this earth and the beauty she created still lives and flourishes. As for where she now watches over all of her children—Well, Heaven just got a little Classier.

 

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Thursday, May 18, 2006

 

 1.  “Ice Ice Baby” is playing on my Yahoo LaunchCast Radio.  Ah, such sweet awkward-teen-year memories… I should keep it to myself that I still know every word to this song.

2.  Mike successfully delivered Fat Matt’s for lunch today.  We had a quick breakfast before parting ways.  I am SO looking forward to lunch.

3.  Finally got my books last night, though I had to finagle getting them from the officer.  I think they wanted to read them before giving them to me or something.

4.  I went home and hibernated last night.  Put Enya into the CD player around 6 p.m., curled up in my blanket and zoned out.  I needed it.

5.  I am quite pleased with how America’s Next Top Model ended.  I really liked the winner and she was my first pick the whole season, but Joanie would’ve been just as good of a choice, too.

6.  I left a message for Shon last night, hoping she’ll know I’m at least trying to reach her even though I can’t seem to.

7.  Have I mentioned I’m tired of being at the center?  Grown women are so childish sometimes.  There’s a woman who lives on my hall, but she’s from the ‘hood (for real for real).  She’s twice my age, and has decided that since she doesn’t actually see me do a cleaning detail every morning that I don’t do anything, so she’s threatened Moo (in my absence) that she’s going ‘to tell on me’.  What, are we 9?

8.  Tenli was nearly assaulted at my train station Tuesday morning.  The big difference is she sits there waiting for the bus when its still dark and there is hardly anyone around, and I a there during rush hour when its crammed full.  6 or 7 guys surrounded her and weren’t going to let her leave, but fortunately two MARTA officers turned the corner, she screamed for them and the guys took off.  I am so worried for her.  I’ve seen a few younger guys pestering and threatening a guy when they asked him for some change or a dollar and he said ‘no’.  They actually followed him, yelling at him, “Oh, its going to be like that, is it?”  I know, I know.  Kelly will even tell you I’m a true city girl (having rode public transportation out of East St. Louis for a few years) and that I have taken self-defense for such an occasion.  I am untrusting of any individual, and I stay on alert.  Tenli admitted she wasn’t paying any attention to her surroundings, and almost invited the trouble.

10.  Much to my relief, I just discovered I should be able to seamlessly renew my drivers license without testing or anything.  This is a great thing!!

11.  I had forgotten how good Fat Matt’s is!  Man, I am still ‘glowing’, as the rum baked beans have enough spices to make you sweat.  It was so good, and we have so much leftover!

12.  We just had chocolate mousse cake for everyone’s birthdays.  It was great!

13.  I met Jake’s father, the attorney for New Gingrich.  He gave us all congressional pins as a thank you for supporting Governor Perdue.  It was pretty neat.

 

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Monday, May 22, 2006

 

 1.  I was out Friday because I had an appointment at Grady, so I forgot to pass along the blog to Kelly to post – sorry!

2.  Grady was a crazy, all day visit Monday.  Turns out the issue is not a breast issue, it is either a medication issue (unlikely) or an endocrine issue (hormones).  I went back today, and the doc said they are taking me off the Reglan for my stomach to clear my body of any meds, then we are going to proceed from there.  They will likely do an MRI of my pituitary gland and I will see an Endocrinologist.  It’s likely that I have a benign tumor affecting the pituitary (nothing to freak out about).  I’m just glad I am getting very quality care at Grady.  They also found a small spot on the right breast, but they think its tissue and will just monitor it closely in 6 months.  So far, I am pleased.

3.  Friday after Grady I had to return to the center early, and I was bummed because the Warden visited yet again.  I swear he only visits when I have to be there.  It was fine, though.  I got about 1.5 hours in the classroom alone in peace to study my Latin, which is improving so much!!

4.  I was BAD Andi for real Friday night.  I raged against the machine!  I got denied yet again on my hair modification form, because the rules have changed yet again without notice.  I am tired of having half blonde, half brown hair, so I did it illegally.  My hair is finally all one color now – a nice, natural looking brunette.  No one of importance has notice – shoot, half my friends haven’t even noticed!  I feel and look so much better.

5.  The weekend was good – visitation with Kelly on Saturday and rest and relaxation rest of the time.  I read an entire book, studied, wrote and slept. I reallllly needed it, too.

6.  LA and I had a nice Mealoaf sing-a-long moment Saturday night.  It made us laugh and cry (long story).

7.  I got a very nice postcard from my dear friend SansMerci.  Merci, mi amiga (half French, half Spanish : )

8.  Missy and I discovered that my handwriting and my sister’s is verrrry similar.  Scary!!

11.  I have 101 days and a wake up.  On Wednesday, I will finally be in the double-digits!!

12.  I had Raisin Nut Bran cereal for lunch today.  It was so good!!!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

 

Today’s horoscope:

Are you feeling like a wild horse that's straining to break loose so it can run free? Ok, maybe that's a bit extreme. But the fact remains that today you are definitely feeling a bit restricted. Determining who or what is restricting you will help release the tension and get you back on the sunny side of things. To do so, simply take a look at the things you don't need in your life and everything else will fall into place. The path to sunshine will be clear.

 

1.  I managed to miss the Legend’s Ball last night (the Oprah Winfrey) event.

2.  It was not one of my best nights at the center (yet not one of my worst).  I got in to find the Warden visiting again (the rug was out) AND they are retiling our showers on our hall, so we have to go to a different hall and fight for a shower every day this week.  This is not amusing.

3.  Tomorrow’s lunch is… drum roll please… Ruth’s Chris!  Mike kindly decided a holiday week deserves an upscale lunch (we like his logic!).  So filet and strip on the menu, along with asparagus, lyonnaise potatoes and cesar salad.  Oh, and chocolate sin cake and cheesecake with fresh berries.  YUM!

4.  Kay just came in after seeing my graduation pictures.  She’s really upset (not at me) that they didn’t get to go to my graduation.  I would’ve invited her, but I didn’t think the center would let me.  Thinking back, I’m sure they would’ve.  She said she’s going to print one of the pics and frame it, though.  She’s too sweet.

5.  My sister and I are trading emails today (since I have a moment alone).  It really, really makes me miss her.  I can’t believe the wedding is only 18 days away.

6.  I am longing to be driving down N. Highland Avenue towards Ponce de Leon, windows down, and “Babylon” by David Gray.  Maybe I am headed towards the smoothie shop and Borders.

7.  I have a headache.

8.  Nevermind.  I just took some Goody’s powder.  It is gone.  Such sweet relief.

9.  I am feeling very much like today’s horoscope – limited and strained.  So much caged energy.  I guess the good thing is I know the source of my limitation.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

 

 1.  Good news yesterday – Moo got a job.  I’m so happy for her.  She’ll be working at Embassy Suites downtown.  She’ll be working 3rd shift, which initially made LA and I nervous.  Moo is not quiet, and we were afraid we’d have to endure her noise coming/going from work.  Turns out it works out perfect – we’ll actually start getting full rest at night!  She leaves around 8 p.m. and will return after we’ve gone to work (except for Saturdays, this works out great).  The on Sundays, her only day off, she’ll be going home on pass.  Not sure when she starts.

2.  We’ve got Ruth’s Chris in the fridge for lunch as we speak!  Lunch can’t come quick enough.

3.  breakfast with Mike was great.  We were both starving for omelet’s.  We celebrated my 99 day mark  and talked about future plans (football, st. louis, etc.).  I sure enjoy our weekly get togethers.

4.  Tomorrow is Missy’s surgery.  She’s being pretty brave about it.  I am proud of her.

5.  An old memory crept into my head this morning.  I was remembering when Kelly and Morgan and I went to Schlitterbahn in Texas, the biggest and best water park in the country.  We had a really good time.  That was back in 2000 I think.

7.  I also received a kind email from Sarah Lou with pictures of my ‘kerchief that I should receive soon.  My blog pals are so sweet!!

8.  I am starting to get replies back from the prison Buddhist programs I contacted about getting free materials, books, etc.  I am anxious!!

9.  Mike has purchased Rams home opener tickets – we’re definitely going!!!

10.  I just looked through Pottery Barn.  Talk about yearning for home.  I cannot WAIT to get home and finish my apartment.  I will need two additional jobs…

12.  Wow.  I just enjoyed our Ruth’s Chris lunch, with plenty of leftovers for Friday!!

13.  Mike just sent me the reservations for Embassy Suites when we go to St. Louis.  We are right on the Landing.  I cannot wait for this trip!

14.  I’ve got music on that reminds me so much of Pop – it’s what he raised me on (Poncho & Left, Rose Colored Glasses, Rose in Paradise, Highway Men, etc.).  It makes me smile and remember him.  I feel warm.

15.  Dessert was too darn good.  We are full and happy.

 

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Friday, May 26, 2006

 

1.  I am glad to be back at work after having spent too much time at Grady (and the Center) this week.  Gayle and Kay are both out, so its pretty low key.  Lots of responsibility for me, though : )

2.  Missy’s surgery went pretty good.  We ran into several aggravating snafus yesterday, though.  First, two security guards at the hospital approached us with some major attitude as soon as we came in the door.  Instead of telling us that entrance was closed, she started barking questions and demanding answers about who Missy’s doctor is, why we were there, who I was, etc.  Missy asked, “Is it okay if we use this entrance?”  And the officer yelled back at her, “Hey, I’M asking the questions here…”  I swear it was something out of a sitcom, but Missy was pissed!  If we wanted to be treated like that, we could’ve just stayed at the center. 

So we went and found the Sgt on duty and wrote a statement.  He was very kind and said that was completely uncalled for, and said he would take care of it.  I got to go back to the pre-op area and wait with her while they finished the procedure before her.  They had just put the IV in and she was a complete mess.  I’m so glad I was there.  She has an immense fear of needles – she nearly passes out when one is coming at her.  Anyway, Grady is run with many residents and students.  The guy who did her IV was fairly new at it, and kept jabbing her 6 or 7 times despite her cries and pleads for him to stop.  He just kept going.  That got her all distraught.  The surgery itself was fine.  They localized the area with anesthesia, and gave her medicine that didn’t knock her out, but she doesn’t hardly remember anything.  Oh, and I am indeed in love with her anesthesiologist!!  He was beautiful (and very kind).  She is at the center until Tuesday recovering.  She’s fine – just very sore and tired.

3.  I am officially very tired of the center.  They decided not to give us our T&I (money for the week) until today.  Well, you could stay in from work to get it, but most people don’t have that luxury.  Apparently the center didn’t get the memo that public transportation is not free…

4.  The stress of life at the center in general had me shed a few tears when I went to see Ms. Calvert yesterday.  I am just tired and worn out.  It’s not one specific thing, its all things all together.  We got me back on a meditation plan and she gave me some more books so all that will keep me on a better mental path.  It is a three day weekend.

5.  The Governor presented me with a pin just a few minutes ago!  He was giving out the pins to all the new interns, and while I’m not really an intern, I am likened to one, so he gave me one.  It’s a thank you for supporting him and for our dedication.  It’s really pretty – a simple lapel pin that is gold with a blue background – it has an eagle and such on it.  I am wearing it proudly : )  I hope before I leave I can get a dept. of corrections one from the Commissioner.  That perked up my day quite a bit.  I didn’t expect it.  It looks great on my black jacket.

6.  Thank Buddha, Moo starts work tonight.  She is working 3rd shift tonight, then starting Monday she’ll be on days for the week while she’s training.  Then she’ll be going permanently to 3rd shift.  Her mood changes are getting to me.  I am very understanding and sympathetic since she’s stuck at the center all day, every day and has been for over a year, but its still wearing on LA and I.  So tonight, we’ll get sleep : )  Well, until she comes in at 7 a.m.

7.  I’ve been missing the teachings of Lynn Grabhorn lately.  It’s been a long time since I’ve thought about the Law of Attraction.  Maybe I need to pick up the book again.

8.  I built a quick list of all the songs I like on Yahoo Unlimited, so now I have a list of at least 100 songs I like of all types to let run.

9.  Oh my god!  Murphy’s law, man.  I tried calling Shon’s number just a few minutes ago.  It always gives me a voice mailbox thing, but today it rang two or three times, then my Director walked in.  I of course had to hang up the phone, but as I was hanging up, I swear I heard someone answer.  The problem is, now everyone is in and out of my office like crazy, and I want to call back!!!  I guess I will have to wait until I get to the Center tonight and see if maybe something has changed and I might actually get a hold of her.  I hope so.  I hate to lose sight of this friendship.

10.  I am looking forward to some sleeping and reading, but beyond that, I am not looking forward to a long weekend.  Something is wrong with this picture.

 

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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

 

1.  Long weekends are not good when you are incarcerated.  I was sooo happy to get back to work this morning.

2.  We are still without proper air conditioning in our room, and it was in the high 80s/low 90s all weekend, so you can imagine how miserable it was.  It’s ridiculous that between the three of us, $270 per WEEK is paid in rent, and we have no air conditioning.

3.  I talked to Paul this weekend.  I am going to do an entire entry about that.

4.  I guess I’ll be getting up at 5 a.m. this week.  I usually get up at 6:30 a.m., but Moo is up at 5 this week, and that means everyone has to be up (she has no courtesy whatsoever).  Yes, it has indeed made me very cranky.

5.  Missy had to go to Grady Hospital this morning (non-emergency).  But she is swollen – her left breast where she had the surgery is twice the size of the other one, and she said its hot like its holding a fever.  This isn’t good.  But she’s been doing okay – just resting and taking Vicadin since her surgery Thursday.

6.  My Phase III project should be going up to Classification today, so hopefully it’ll get done.  If that’s the case, it will mean I have officially completed the transitional center program.  Woo hoo.  I’ll also be eligible for 12 hour passes if they ever decide to let me go home on pass.

7.  I had a brilliant idea this weekend.  I was thinking about the daunting task of clearing out my storage space and condense my stuff down.  Well, a lot of my stuff is of sentimental value, especially clothing.  I have a lot of t-shirts from high school, missionary trips, etc. that mean a lot to me.  I don’t want to get rid of them, but I won’t likely wear them again.  So how about I make a quilt out of them?  I just need to learn how to make a quilt, I guess.  I think it would be really cool.  Maybe I’ll add some pictures to it like on the movie “Stepmother”.  I just did a google search and it seems ‘scrapbook quilts’ are quite popular.  I want to make one for sure.

8.  I just read a letter to the Governor from three 11-year-olds.  They are wanting to invent a solar powered hover board, and are requesting the following donations:  carbon board, three large solar pads, circuit wires, speedometer, two metal capsules, rocket thrusters and money.  I think that is so cute.

9.  Exactly one year ago last week I left Fulton County for Prison.  Diagnostics seems like an eternity ago.

10.  I am sincerely disappointed in Cape Cod’s Sea Salt & Vinegar chips.  I love S&V, and Cape Cod is my favorite brand, so I thought it was in the bag (ha ha). Nope.  They aren’t that good.

 

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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

 

1.  some major stuff has been going down at the Center (not directly involving me).  I am doing a separate update on that.

2.  Gayle seems a little down today.  Not sure what’s going on.

3.  My energy level is zip.  I am so sleepy and tired.  I feel like I am not getting any rest.  Tomorrow should be Moo’s last morning getting up before us.  She just refuses to be quiet.  Hopefully I’ll go back to getting rest next week.

4.  Crap.  Just realized I forgot to give Kelly my package slip.  Guess I’ll get my package next week…

5.  Kelly’s 90-Day email really perked me up : )

6.  Missy is okay.  She went to Grady yesterday and saw a nurse at the Breast Clinic.  She’s swollen more than they’d like, but its normal.

7.  We had some air yesterday – we got the room down to a crisp 75 degrees.  Hopefully it will last.

8.  Mellow Mushroom lunch (turkey and ham sam’ich with provolone and a cesear salad) was delicious!!

9.  Breakfast with Mike was good, too.  I’m so glad I have him to rely on for a pep talk.

10.  One positive thing is that since school is out, MARTA has been less crowded and we arrive early.

11.  I got a free book on Buddhism and magazine from one of the Dharma prison projects.  That was quick!  It was uplifting knowing there are positive supporters out there.

12.  Our interns need to be renamed “the three stooges” because they are.

 

 What's really going on here?!

I think today calls for a real blog update.  My stress levels seem to be out of control at the moment.  I can’t really place what’s causing it other than I am tired of living the way I live.  Not to mention what’s coming.

 

We are about to be caught up in some serious mess at the Center.  It’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally coming to a head.  We have one male counselor at the center.  I have heard rumors of incidents where he has used his power to… what’s the word I’m looking for… control women on his caseload.  I tend to dismiss rumors, but over time, I’ve had friends on his caseload who over time have become very upset with this man.

 

See, everything we need as a resident comes from our counselor.  Everything from a package slip to get our necessities to getting approved to do anything (except breathe).  Our counselor is literally our life line at the center – without them, we do not exist.  And God forbid you have an emergency and a counselor who can’t handle anything.  I am one of the lucky ones – Ms. Calvert is the best counselor there, and she’s also the only one that is a licensed therapist.

 

Anyway, I had a feeling about this particular counselor, we’ll call him Mr. Mr. Dirty, immediately.  Maybe its just me being in tune to others and my surroundings.  He always seemed overly friendly to young or shapely or attractive females.  They seemed to be getting all of their needs met, at least at first.

 

Back when I still lived in C building and was bored out of my mind because I had nothing to do, I used to voluntarily attend Mr. Dirty’s two groups, Addictive Personalities and Motivation for Change.  I was friends with Brandi then, a  young and attractive girl who resembled me (so everyone said).  People used to get us confused.  Brandi and I would attend the two groups together.  Mr. Dirty always called us to help him set up the classroom, and would sometimes visit and talk with us for an hour before class.

 

I would not say that Mr. Dirty was particularly bold with his ‘offers’ with me, probably because he knew I was the wrong one to mess with.  But he used our commonalities – we both lived in Texas, he graduated from University of Texas where I want/wanted to go to school, he’s psychologist with an interest (obviously) in criminal behavior, etc.  It was okay that he offered to mentor me, but he did push it too far a few times with his offers to spend time one-on-one, giving me the wink-wink, nudge-nudge look and raising his eyebrows at me.  I never took him up on his offer because its highly against the rules to have personal dealings with any staff, and that, even work-related, is personal dealings.  It was then and only then that I started giving some of the rumors validity.

 

Brandi had to continue going to Motivation for Change even after I quit.  She was also on his caseload.  A few weeks before she left, she confided in me that Mr. Dirty had made advances on her – he never touched her, but he promised her that she would get priority in having her paperwork completed and whatnot if she agreed to ‘an exclusive relationship’ with him.  She told him she wasn’t comfortable with that, and he told her that he couldn’t promise that her paperwork would be completed on a regular basis.

 

When she told me this, I asked her if she’d done anything about it.  She said no, it wasn’t that big of a deal, and that she’d find a way to get her package slips and other paperwork.  This is when I realized what kind of trouble this Center is in.  It is no joke that Mr. Dirty is exploiting women in such a way.  Girls like Brandi are so used to ‘earning’ necessities on the street and always having strings attached – this should be the last place they are taught to do the same thing!  Brandi already has the image about herself that she doesn’t just deserve what she needs, and he enforced that in her!

 

Brandi is one of several girls who’ve had direct issues with Mr. Dirty.  I couldn’t get her to tell anyone about it, and she left a few weeks later.  There was another young girl, Shannon, that I was friends with until she left in mid-December.  Shannon was also on Mr. Dirty’s caseload and he also threatened her.  She, too, was afraid to go forward, however her parents called and pitched a fit (her father is an attorney).  She was immediately released (6 months early to be exact), and no one knows if it is tied to Mr. Dirty’s actions or not.

 

I also remember incidents with my prior roommate.  It is backwards but relevant to the situation.  It was Deborah, the roommate I couldn’t stand.  She used to wear low cut tops and go in there with batty eyelashes to try and get items from him (he controlled indigent supplies such as shampoo, perms, soap, clothes, etc.).  I don’t think she expected him to turn the tables on her.  She told us one day that he had tried to force himself on her and threatened that he would no longer get her what she needs if she didn’t become involved with him sexually.  I will admit I didn’t believe her at the time because I knew of her Mr. Dirty behavior and habit of exploiting people to get what she wants.  I can say that he was her counselor, and she went through a period of over a month where she avoided him completely and would not speak to him.

 

Shannon has remained good friends with my roommate, LA.  LA managed to talk Shannon into coming forward, especially since she is gone from the Center.  Shannon contacted Ms. Calvert, and the ball started rolling.  Ms. Calvert contacted Internal Affairs on a Thursday two weeks ago.  Mr. Dirty left for a sudden, unexpected ‘vacation’ the very next day and hadn’t been back since.  Ms. Calvert also met with three other girls that have come forward about their own incidents with Mr. Dirty.

 

One of the girls lives next door to me, and we’ve been friends over the last few months.  LA told us that IA met with Shannon at home for 2 hours, and with Robin for an hour and a half, as well as the other 2 girls.  Also, yesterday was the first day Mr. Dirty has been at the center since IA was contacted.

 

Robin told us that they were interviewed and given the investigators cell phone number so that if there are more girls, they can call and discuss their issues with him.  He also told Robin that Mr. Dirty was being transferred to a male facility immediately (yesterday was his last day), and that he’d never work with women again. Furthermore, they cannot fire him completely until the investigation is complete, but he will likely face jail time and will not ever work for the State again.

 

The story doesn’t stop there.

 

I believe this will launch a chain reaction.  There is one big hitch to the whole situation.  Most of the girls involved have complained to counselors and the Superintendent.  She has turned a blind eye to all of their complaints and let it continue.  I even remember my very first day I arrived at the Center (November 10).  There was a mandatory house meeting that evening because of the recent escapes.  Several issues came up in that meeting.  I remember the Superintendent standing up there and saying, “And ya’ll might as well stop putting in complaints on Mr. Mr. Dirty.  I’m going to defend him to the end; he’s my friend.”  I remember thinking to myself, “what’s really going on here?”  Of course, at the time I was brand spanking new and had no idea what she was talking about, but I know now.

 

That statement is written in the House Meeting notes that get published every week.  I know that all the girls mentioned this statement to the investigator.

 

This is a crazy contradiction because they are always telling us to report any sexual harassment that occurs on our jobs.  You can best believe if one of us came forward about our boss, they would take serious action.  But our Superintendent, the one that is supposed to look out for our well being and train us to be responsible, productive citizens is the very one allowing us to be exploited.

 

Most of the women in this Center have been abused, taken advantaged of, exploited, etc., and that has contributed to their reasons for being incarcerated in the first place.  Most have the lowest self-esteem of anyone I’ve ever met. THIS is not the type of behavior they need prior to release from prison.  This just reinforces their low opinion of themselves.  It shows that they are not worthy of proper treatment and care, of support, of things being done the right way.

 

This situation makes me truly sick.  The whole Center makes me truly sick.  Moo has been there for a year and a half and seen many complaints and valid grievances go unnoticed.  In fact, the Superintendent threw a pizza party for the residents after she and the Center were audited because ‘everyone had kept quiet and made her look good’. 

 

It’s been obvious since I’ve been there that the Superintendent has one goal in mind:  to continue looking good.  She is retiring next year and wants to leave with a good name.  This is why so much is swept under the rug and covered up.

 

This makes me wonder what will happen in the meantime.  I am sure we will be punished for this.  I am sure that shakedowns and loss of privileges will be the constant theme for awhile, as her way of showing us she’s mad at us.  But it’s all going to come down, because if this investigation proves what’s really been going on, she’ll will be punished, too, since she’s known this has been going on for a very long time.   And usually, one major complaint that gets the ball rolling tends to open the can of worms on whatever else has been going on (we already know there are problems in the business office and with our money).  Loss of privileges and personal comfort are a small price to pay for a tiny bit of justice.

 

One more reason I want to work in prison reform and corrections. 

 

 I am so loved!  Below is an email I received from Kelly that he sent out to everyone else via email...

 

Hey everyone….

Sorry, but there’s no blog today, but I do have something to share…A milestone if you will. It picked up my spirits more than I expected, a pleasant surprise for sure, and I hope it will do the same for you…

 

We are all weary, none more so than Andi herself, in all that she has had to endure while paying her debt to society. And though we all know that there IS an end in the near future, sometimes it still feels sooooooooo far away….A dream, a wish, a someday.

 

Well, today I needed to update my calendar, as I do each month. And even though I keep a running countdown of Andi’s days left in the “system” (very much the same way I use to count down my days during hardship oversees tours in the military) I was surprised to find that I could, for the first time, see ALL of Andi’s days at one time!!!

 

 It wasn’t until this moment that I realized just how INCREDIBLY SHORT the time actually is until Andi is once again FREE and with us again

 

……..as of June 1, 2006 Andi will officially have 90 DAYS AND A WAKE UP (as we call it)…….Now what does this really mean? How can I really break this down to you in the best, clearest, most vivid and concise and all-encompassing way????????????........

 

………………………..open the attached photo and SEE.  Yeah, Baby!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You guys are the greatest!…Thanks for all of the support from beginning to the “almost” end AND beyond!!!!!!!

Thursday, June 1, 2006

 

1.  It’s finally June!  I am 8 days away from turning 30!!

2.  We just had a free catered lunch from Jason’s Deli.  It was pretty good – chicken pasta something or other, ham and provolone sandwich on croissant, cream of broccoli soup, pickle, and cookies.  This means I still have Mellow Mushroom for lunch tomorrow!

3.  Moo is killing me.  I’m glad today should be her last day of first shift. 

4.  I browsed the AJC today to get an idea of what kind of jobs are out there (I am feeling the stress of preparing to go home), and found that Smyrna is hiring for Firefighter I.  I really wish that was an option for me.  It only pays $32K/year, but most firefighters work 2 – 24 hour shifts per week, and have the rest of the days off, and almost all firefighters work a second job or own their own business.  It would be ideal for me.  I am still going to consider it, I just have to find the loop hole with my First Offender/Felony status.

5.  It has come to my attention that the Georgia Dept. of Corrections is moving to Forsyth, Ga.  I guess this is my sign that I wasn’t meant to work for the GDC.  I cannot foresee myself moving there and being remotely happy.  This really breaks my heart.  Not that working for the GDC would solve the issues that need to be fixed, and not that they'd actually hire me...

 

6.  As my sister’s wedding approaches, my anxiety about it is increasing.  I am dreaming about my family and missing them every night, and dreaming about family events (probably her wedding), and me missing them by ‘that’ much.  It’s really disturbing.

 

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Friday, June 02, 2006

 

1.  I am tired again today.  I have got to get some rest this weekend.

2.  I am seriously trying to get information on First Offender and if it will allow me to become a firefighter when I leave here.  It’s going to crush me if I can’t or if I have to wait the four years.  I had some encouraging conversation with another resident last night that restored my hope.  She said her husband became a firefighter after he was convicted (jail time but not prison).  I am trying to cement the facts since its getting close.  I saw an ad for testing in the City of Smyrna and that got me excited again.

3.  I had a childish argument with Moo last night.  It was petty, but I can’t figure out why I let that girl get to me.  She drives me crazy.

4.  We watched “So you think you can dance” or whatever it is last night.  It was mildly entertaining.  I hate watching tv, but I admit it has given us something to look forward to here, and something to bond over.

5.  I did a little research during a rare lunch break today on fire departments.  I took a look at all the local counties and the city.  I’ll be honest – this is scary.  I always knew it wasn’t easy to become a firefighter, but the process is very intimidating for someone in my shoes.  It would be one thing if I’d already completed my certification at Lee Arrendale.  Most FDs do a full background check, to include your credit (bankruptcies and bad credit in general), criminal background through GBI, a check for solid and stable work history and some even require a polygraph test.  All of the websites except for Cobb County demand no felony convictions.  I guess this is a great lesson to not let these things scare me or prevent me from overcoming these hurdles.

6.  I just made an appointment to finally get my contacts again.  If I’m approved, I’ll be going Friday the 16th.

7.  The part of me that wants to sleep is glad its Friday.

 

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Monday, June 05, 2006

 

1.  I forgot to mention the spectacular news Friday, which was the 90 day mark. This means today I am down to 87 and a wake up.

2.  They sent a truck load of people home today – a bunch!

3.  The weekend was okay.  Kelly’s visit was my highlight and it was a good visit.  LA and I literally slept all day Sunday.  The whole room got up for mandatory count at 11:15 a.m., we moved around, and by 1:15 p.m., LA and I were asleep until 4:30 p.m.

4.  Last night was great.  Moo left for work at 7:58 p.m., and LA and I watched “Runaway Bride”.  It’s not that I LOVE the movie; I like it okay, and we were able to watch it completely uninterrupted without Moo.

5.  Tension was mounting by Saturday evening regarding Moo.  LA and I got to talk Saturday evening.  I was afraid I was just being over sensitive to her lately, but LA said she didn’t think that was the case.  Even she noticed Moo has been different lately – very combative, moody and always picking fights.  She seems to change with the wind.

6.  My Saturday evening turned to crap.  I had great plans.  LA was at work until 7 p.m., Moo was on pass until 8 p.m., so from 2 p.m. on, I should’ve had the room to myself.  I was looking forward to that since ‘Son in Law” was coming on, and its one of my favorite movies.  Well, instead, the officer called my name at 4 p.m. and said I had to put on a prison jumpsuit and go work in the kitchen.  I didn’t get out of the kitchen until after 7 p.m.  needless to say I was pretty mad.  All the non-working residents they have down in C building, and they pulled all working residents.

9.  My saving grace was Waller was working the kitchen.  We hung out, and we got to feed the cats and pigeons and squirrels the bread and meat the humans didn’t want (can’t blame them).  It was almost an enlightening moment, sitting outside in the beautiful weather feeding the animals (illegally at that!).

10.  Team Georgia just treated us to hot Otis Spunkmeyer cookies.  They were great!

11.  Today is my friend Lowe’s birthday.

12.  I will be a ripe “30” this week.

13.  I was sad to learn that one of my favorite artists, Alice Peacock, will be giving a free concert at Park Tavern on June 30.  Good for her, bad for me : (  Of all Organic X artists, she’s the one I’d want to see live.

14.  I do have a good package coming this week with my new MP3 player and MP3 CDs : )

15.  Missy could feasibly be going home in the next 5 weeks or so.  For her sake, I hope so.  She’s approaching 3 years.  I’ll sure miss her, though.

17.  Hopefully my funk is finally turning around.

 

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

 

 1.  It’s 6-6-06.  Apparently we are supposed to implode or something.  All I know is that the crazies are out in force – on the roads, on MARTA, in the Governor’s mail…

2.  I went back to the Center and hibernated yesterday.  I had two hours of ‘Friends’ to perk me up.

5.  I don’t think I believe in coincidence.

6.  I treated myself to a cup of decaf this morning.  It was good.

7.  Mike and I were emailing about our St. Louis trip and I got goose bumps just thinking about it.

8.  I am missing ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ being shown at Screen on the Green in Centennial Olympic park on June 22.  I am not amused by this.

9.  There was a bomb scare down at the Fulton County Courthouse.  I guess it turned out to be nothing, but Gayle said it was mayhem when she walked down that way.

10.  Mike is taking me to see the Dixie Chicks in October!!  I am super-hyped about this! 

11.  It is getting harder and harder to drag myself out of bed every morning and face another day dealing with MTC, and it gets more and more depressing everyday to leave work and get on that bus and head back to the center.  I hate it there so much.

12.  On a MUCH brighter note, tomorrow is breakfast with Mike, sushi day and cake for my birthday!  Yay!!

13.  I also have shopping to look forward to this weekend (hopefully).

14.  Actual handwritten postcard received in the Governor's Office:  Gas is not that big an issue; my car runs on rectal tissue.

 

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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

 

1.  Breakfast with Mike this morning was great!  He went all out for my birthday lunch today – lots and lots of sushi with all the fixin’s, birthday cake from Bugaboo Creek complete with silly candles, a birthday card and cereal for the rest of the week.  He is too good to me.

2.  When I got to work, I also found a birthday card and a Hershey’s bar on my desk from Gayle, which was really sweet.  She knows my birthday is Friday, but it seems we’re celebrating today.

3.  On my way out the door this morning, Rexinger handed me a flower and said, “here, take this to work with you.”  They were doing yard work and found a Gardenia on the ground.  It smells soooo good.  I had no idea they smelled so good.  Our whole office smells like it.

4.  The Center has messed up yet again.  Apparently they didn’t go to the bank to get cash to do our weekly allowance, so once again, we won’t have our money today.  They still haven’t gotten the memo that public transportation isn’t free.

5.  It has been a great day so far.  We just ate sushi!  YUM!!  It was so good!  I miss sushi so much.  Gayle enjoyed the selections I made.  I also shared with Pat upstairs because I love her and she loves sushi, and Kerra was curious so she tried some.  It was a fabulous lunch.  Dessert is later.

6.  I met Miss Georgia just before lunch, and Nudge from the ‘Nudge at Night’ radio show on Star 94.  He was cool.  It’s been an interesting day, and the office has been buzzing.

7.  I have just been informed that Michael Chertoff, Secretary of Homeland Security, is in the Capitol.  We are basically locked in our suite, and surrounded by bomb sniffing dogs, GBI, FBI and all kinds of security.  All of the entrances/exits have been closed off.  It’s crazy.

8.  The fog seems to have lifted a little.  I’m not saying I’m back to my 100% positive self, but the funk is lighter.  I don’t seem to be as negative or as reclusive today.  I have been trying very hard to live in the moment rather than what’s to come.

9.  Maybe it’s my new Om necklace with the power chakra.  I got my necklace today.  Let’s hope it doesn’t cause too much controversy at the Center.  And if it does, bring it.

10.  Only three more days until my shopping trip : )

 

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Thursday, June 08, 2006

 

My day was NOT off to a good start at all.  After all the progress I made yesterday with the funk, I was sure being tested.  Today is the big audit.  I am so tired of hearing that word.  During an audit, the ‘powers that be’ visit the center to audit procedures, paperwork, etc.  It really doesn’t have much to do with us or our living quarters.  But, because our staff (officers and administration) wait to the last minute to do anything AND are trying to cover up for so much mess, they have everyone running around crazy like crazy trying to overcompensate.

 

They had us up ½ hour earlier than usual, which was fine with me.  I got up and started cleaning the room since I am the only one of the three that was home.  This includes wiping down all surfaces, pulling out the lockers to sweep/mop and clean the baseboards.  I was already a tiny bit irritable since our air conditioner is not working so its very hot and humid in our room.  And I was already tired of Ofc. Channel screaming at us over the intercom.  But I was trying to maintain, remember I would soon be gone to work.

 

I was behind LA’s locker, wiping it down and cleaning baseboards, which means I was behind the door when it is open.  It was closed, and next thing I know, she kicks the door open, which hits me in the head.  I said, “Excuse me!!”  And no, I didn’t say it nice.  She keeps walking and barks at me, “You need to get out from behind there!”  I said, “I’m cleaning, MA’AM.”  Then I slammed the door.

 

I didn’t even care what the repercussions were.  How can they treat people like that?  I was doing as I was instructed to do, and this is how I get treated?  I was so mad about the whole incident that I didn’t care if it turned into a confrontation and put my place at MTC in jeopardy.  It was inappropriate no matter how you chop it.  I went on about my business, cleaned and left.  When I went to sign out, she was the officer at the CO booth.  I am sure she didn’t even realize she hit me in the head or what resident it was.  I am just trying to let it go.

 

I did really good yesterday about keeping my spirits up.  It was a good day considering breakfast, a feast of sushi with Gayle at lunch, cake, etc.  Then I got back to the center and saw an Amazon box – I knew they would be my books from Mike.  Sure enough, they were.  Moo got Ms. Ellis to give them to me around 6 p.m.  I was ecstatic to have good reading material again.  He picked out GREAT books.

 

I was tested as soon as I got in the door, though.  Moo was in a mood, and started picking a fight with me over LA’s sheets.  It was so silly, and I gave it no energy.  I was proud of myself for maintaining and not letting that stuff get to me.  I did get to watch Dateline and ‘So you think you can dance’.  Hopefully tonight I’ll get my package.  Then I’ll have new (sort of) clothes to wear to work and my MP3 player and CDs and stuff.

 

1.  A man got on the bus this morning and he had a true mala bead necklace.  It was neat seeing that.

2.  I got a nice birthday card from my cousin Jeff with beautiful pictures of his son and a card from Kelly.  I am loved : )

3.  Tonight is Moo’s last night of work until Sunday.  It’s going to be hard to have her in the room all the time this weekend.

4.  I wanted to come in and turn on my music but I can’t yet : (  People are coming to repair a system that’s in my area so I have to wait.  Grrrr.

5.  The guy from the phone system recorder thing is here and he keeps invading my space.  It is getting very annoying.

6.  I want so badly to be laying in a comfortable bed somewhere quiet (not at the center) and reading a good book.

7.  Gayle and I are having leftover sushi and chocolate cake for lunch today : )

8.  One of my favorite people, Pat (I work with her), just gave me a brand new pair of yoga pants from J. Jill.  She ordered them for herself, but they are too big.  And since tomorrow is my birthday, she gave them to me.  She’s so sweet!  They’re a beautiful rich brown and so luxurious.  She’s too cool.

 

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Friday, June 09, 2006

 

 Turning 30 Gracefully

What a crazy and eventful day!!  It’s been wonderful (and it isn’t even noon yet!!).

 

I got out of the Center with relatively few issues this morning (I was determined to make today a GREAT day), and that was major improvement over yesterday!!  I’ll get to that later – yesterday got real bad at the Center and I almost sent myself back to prison.

 

Gayle and I had just settled in at our desks this morning when Kay came and got Gayle, looking flustered.  I thought maybe something was going on, something not good.  Then Kay came rushing in and said, “Andrea, come with me for a minute.”  She said it all hushed like there was a problem.  We walked toward her office, and all the people in the office were standing in the common area and started singing to me!  It was so sweet!  They brought an Einstein’s Bagels breakfast and OJ. 

 

Then she made a really big announcement – Gayle and I are the Employees of the Month!!  I can’t believe it!  I was so shocked by the whole thing, I had to fight back tears.  I was just so pleased and touched by it all.

 

Then I got emails from Mike, Teri, Kelly and Rae.  THEN, I got the best gift a girl could ever receive – my good pal Tiffany sent me Amazon gift certificate.  She is the sweetest, and knows me too well!  I just cannot express how much my heart is overflowing with joy this morning over so much kindness.

 

The Very Bad Day at MTC  (they’re out to get me!!)

I am seriously convinced that they really are out to get me.  I’m not just paranoid anymore.  I already wrote about yesterday morning’s incident with Ms. Channel (whom has always had it out for me – she’s the one I had the pants issue with months ago when I was fairly new at MTC).

 

I pretty much let the morning incident go.  There’s nothing I can do about it, so why fret.  I come back to the Center on my usual bus, so I arrive around 4:55 p.m., and I was on the bus alone.  Ms. Channel was at the CO desk signing me in.  She says, “Settlemoir, who did you call to tell you were coming early?”  I said, “Ma’am?”  I had no idea what she was talking about because I was in at my usual time.  I just sat looking at her waiting to give me more info because I was confused.  She finally said, “What, you can’t even think up a good lie?  You can’t because you never called to say you were coming in early, did you?”

 

I said, “Ma’am, I come in at the same time every single day except when I go to Grady.  Today is no exception.”  She says, “Well your due in time says 6:03 p.m.”  I said, “Okay, but it doesn’t change the fact that I leave my job at 4 p.m. everyday, I catch the 4:15 bus, and arrive at the Center sometime between 4:55 and 5:05.  Every.  Single.  Day.  I did not leave work early today.”

 

At this point, LT comes moseying over to see what’s going on.  You know I cannot stand her, either.  LT asks why my due in time is 6:03, and I told her I have no idea because I do not decide these things.  I just go to work and come back everyday.  Channel finally got smart enough to pull my sign in card and see that I do indeed come in at the same time everyday.  Instead of admitting she was wrong and apologizing for calling me a liar when clearly I’m not, she got all huffy and said that it needs to be changed, etc.  Hell, its been this way for 5 months, why start now?!  She just kept acting like I did something wrong instead of it just being a misunderstanding.

 

Again, I just let it roll.  So LT does my shakedown (we get our bag checked and strip searched every time we leave the Center and return).  She checks my bag, its fine as always.  She takes me back to the staff bathroom.  I lift my shirt and bra and turn around, drop my pants and underwear and squat and cough.  As I start to take off my shoes, she says, “Wait, I haven’t seen that on you before.”  The way she was pointing, I thought at first she was talking about my clothes.  I knew that was a lie because I wear the exact same 5 outfits every single week (we are extremely limited in the number of items we can have).

 

She says, “Lift up your shirt again.”  I do, and my chameleon tattoo is exposed.  “This?”  I say.  She says, “Yeah, that.  I’ve never seen that on you before.  When did you get that?  This is the first time I’ve seen this.”  Again, all I could say is, “Ma’am?” because I was so perplexed.  I thought she was kidding because a lot of the officers were surprised when they first saw it since I don’t look like someone who’d have a big lizard around their belly button.  Also, LT has shook me down maybe twice the whole time I’ve been here.  I said, “Ma’am, I’ve had this for 11 years, since 1995 when I was in college.”

 

She said, “No, I don’t think so.  Ha, 11 years.  It looks brand new, like you just got it done.”

 

WTF?!

 

She said, “You better believe I’m looking into this and their will be consequences for this.”  Then she left.  I just stood there for a second thinking this had to be a joke.  I really thought she was kidding.  She isn’t the type to kid, but you can’t ever really tell what she’s dead serious about.

 

I left, went to my room, got my stuff for dinner and headed out to the dining hall.  I got back there, asked for a tray, and as soon as they started to hand it to me, LT gets on the intercom and says, “Resident Settlemoir, report back to A station IMMEDIATELY!”  I rolled my eyes and stormed back up there.  I couldn’t believe it.

 

I get up there, and Sgt. Fowler was calling out names for packages, so at first I thought maybe my package arrived.  But then Ms. Bowman saw me and said to the other officers, “There she is!” and they all turned around and glared at me.  I knew then it wasn’t about a package.

 

Ms. Stubbs, whom I actually like, picked up some paperwork, came out of the CO station and said, “Come on, Settlemoir.”  The paperwork she had in her hand looked like DR paperwork and I started to freak out.  I said, “Ms.  Stubbs, what’s going on?”  She said, “I have to shake you down again.”  She took me into the bathroom again, and I said, “Let me guess, this is about my tattoo?”  She said, “Yeah, LT said you got a new one and I have to verify it and write up an incident report for further investigation.”

 

I lifted my shirt and said, “Ms. Stubbs, PLEASE have someone pull my file before this goes any further.  It will say somewhere in my record, either my intake to prison record or at the very least on my arrest record that I have a tattoo on my stomach.  Then we can put all of this to rest.  I have had this tattoo since 1995, when I was in college.”  She could tell I was frustrated, and my skin was blotchy red from my blood pressure skyrocketing.  We left and she said I could go.  So I have no idea what’s going to happen from here.

 

I was talking to Moo and LA and Missy and some other trusted folks about it.  I think we have a theory that sounds about right.  See, it’s the classic case of the bad kids always getting away with everything.  The bad kids seem to get away with everything because it’s expected of them.  But those of us that keep to ourselves and don’t make ourselves known, we’re automatically suspicious and sneaky.  I makes sense. 

 

Somehow I’ve managed to let it roll.  Yeah, I was mad about it, but it is what it is.  Gayle and I predicted that the evil spirits would increase for the last 90 days of my sentence.  And it’s obvious that they are, so I’m going to take it all in stride.  It’s okay, because the best revenge is success.  However, nothing better come out of this tattoo thing.  I am thinking that the incident report will disappear once they look in my file and are embarrassed by the whole thing.  One more thing to sweep under their pretty rugs.  If they threaten further action, then I’ll do what I have to do.

 

In the meantime, I think its funny.  Also, the officers must have been gossiping to someone because I had told NO ONE about the incident (Missy and my roommates weren’t home yet) , but a resident (and friend) came up to me about 2 hours later and said, “Andi!  I heard a pretty big rumor about you.  I heard you got a new tattoo on your stomach!  Is it true?”  I just rolled my eyes and laughed.  I didn’t get to finish talking to her, but I want to hear the rest of what she heard.  She had to have heard it from an officer.

 

Ms. Calvert (my trusty counselor) stopped me on the yard during mail call and asked what was going on.  She was standing in the CO booth when it was all going down and overheard that I had gotten a tattoo recently.  She said, “No way it was Settlemoir.”  So she stopped to ask, and I told her the situation.  She rolled her eyes, too, and said we’d take it as it comes.  She knows better.  I’m so glad I have her for support.  She is the best woman in the entire prison system.

 

So that’s that.

 

My Sister’s Wedding

Of course I am a little sad and displaced about the fact that Kelly and Rae have packed up and left for Chicago today.  They should be on the road now.  My sister’s wedding is tomorrow at 4:30 p.m.  Rae even said in her email to me that is weird going to her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend’s sister’s wedding.  I’ll admit that it didn’t hit me until yesterday that it is indeed strange that my ex-boyfriend of 6 years is taking his girlfriend to my sister’s wedding and I won’t even be there.  And yes, it did sting.

 

I am so glad I am going shopping tomorrow, because it will keep my mind off of it.  I think about it now and then, but I’m taking the unhealthy approach of not thinking about it much.  This is one of the hardest things I’ve had to deal with in my entire sentence.

Monday, June 12, 2006

 

The weekend has come and gone.  That’s mostly a good thing.  It was a GREAT weekend, really.  Not a whole lot to complain about, and a whole lot to smile about.  That’s the way I like it.

 

My Sister’s Wedding

First and foremost, my little sister is married!  Well, she’ll be 28 Thursday so I guess she isn’t all that little anymore.  Nikki’s wedding was Saturday.  Kelly and Rae drove up to Champaign, Illinois for it.  Fortunately, I was busy most of the day on Saturday so I was distracted enough for it not to bother me all day long.  I thought about it, but I didn’t dwell much.  Kelly told me to call him around 6:30 p.m. their time because the wedding will be over by then, and maybe I could talk to my mom and/or sister for a minute. 

 

I’ve been trying to prepare for this day since September.  That’s when she and Chris got engaged.  Of course none of us knew at the time that I would actually serve all this time, so when she made plans for a June wedding, it seemed logical.  But here I am.  These things happen.  Anyway, I wouldn’t say I was dreading the date by any means, because its my sister and I am proud and happy that she is marrying Chris.  But knowing I was going to miss this most important day was pulling at my heart.  I’ve experienced many emotions, but none quite like missing my sister’s wedding.

 

So I am very glad that Kelly drove up to be there for the occasion since I couldn’t be and that Rae accompanied him.  He told me to call him around 7:30 p.m. my time to see if I could talk to my mom and/or sister after the wedding.  It sounded like a good idea when we talked about it.  Saturday evening came and I called Kelly.  He and Rae were waiting for the reception to start and were mingling with my family and friends.  All he had to say is, “I was just talking to your Uncle John.”  I could tell he’d been laughing and having a good time.  And that was it – I started crying and couldn’t start.  Well, crying and smiling at the same time.  I guess calling him while he was in the midst of my family and friends just put way too much reality to it.

 

He told me all about the wedding, about how perfect it was (in my sister and Chris’ way) and how beautiful and happy she looked.  He said my mom looked absolutely beautiful and cut her hair into a very stylish cut.  He also said she hugged him when they went through the receiving line, and then she stopped and looked at him to acknowledge that I wasn’t there with him, and her eyes started to water.  So they had to do damage control so she wouldn’t cry.  That made me cry even worse.

 

He told me to try calling back later so I could maybe talk to them, but I didn’t know if I could.  I ended up not calling because I knew they would start crying and I didn’t want that to happen while at her wedding.  So I just let it be. 

 

I think that other than not being there, the other thing that really made it hard was Kelly having to tell most of my family that I couldn’t get out of work to be there (mom decided this was not the time to come out with where I am).  So now I’m sure family is wondering why my job is more important than my sister’s wedding.  It just breaks my heart that they’ve got to cover for me.  I really feel like I’ve let my family down for real this time.

 

But Kelly took over 100 pictures and I can’t wait to see them.  I know there was video so I’ll see that when I go home, too.  Kelly said as always he had a hard time parting from my family, and he is comforted in knowing that they have taken him in as one of their own.

 

Shopping Trip

Shopping on Saturday was my saving grace of the weekend.  I had SUCH a good time.  Ms. Calvert messed up on my pass, and I actually got 3 hours instead of 2 to shop.  I could’ve had 4 if I wanted to push it, but that didn’t feel comfortable.  3 was plenty, considering.

 

Paul was to meet me between 11:15 and 11:30 a.m. at the entrance of Target.  I ended up getting there at 10:35 a.m., so I had time to spare.  I went into to Target and got my earrings, which I was going to wear in to the center instead of counting it as a purchased item.  Then I wandered around for a minute, and decided to go get my items for Kroger so we wouldn’t have to mess with that when Paul arrived.  I got my popcorn and tea, then walked out to head back to Target.  I walked out the door, and there was Paul in the parking lot.  The timing was perfect.

 

We went to Target, got my items, then headed to RuSan’s for lunch.  I ate so much!  I had the buffet for the first time, and it was impressive.  It was so great sitting there in a normal restaurant with great company, feeling ‘normal’ again.  I told Paul it was moments like that where it’s really hard to force myself to go back.  He understood.  I think that was something I needed – having someone who can relate to what it’s like to be separated from ‘regular society’.  He can relate to boot camp and tours, etc.  It brought a lot of comfort (I am tired of feeling like an institutionalized circus freak!).

 

We stopped into Barnes and Noble to browse, and talked each other into dessert at Starbucks.  We each had a slice of Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake from Cheesecake Factory and a coffee.  It was so good – the kind where you can’t finish the last bite!

 

And then, sadly, it was time to go.  We walked back to Target, made my phone call, and parted ways.  It was really, really hard to return to the center after such a good day.  But I’m grateful I got out for awhile.  And with such good company.

 

Friday night I got a great birthday treat – my package arrived with my new MP3 player and 3 MP3 CDs.  I stayed up until 1:30 a.m. listening to songs I had long forgotten about!  When I returned to the center Saturday, I put my headphones on and they stayed on until dinner, then more later that night.  I had so much music to listen to!

 

So that’s pretty much it.  It was a pretty busy weekend (thank goodness!).

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

 

1.  I am down to 78 days and a wake up!!  I am almost down to the 60 day mark already.  I hope time keeps on going like this!

2.  It seems my days have been a whirlwind since last Friday.  It’s mostly been on the up and up for a change. 

3.  My friend Michelle went home this morning.  This is a small victory even for me.  She’s the girl that was from my neighborhood (the Highlands), the other ‘you don’t belong here’ girl.  We’ve been together from Diagnostics at Metro through Alto all the way until now at MTC.  She served way more time than she should have on her sentence.

4.  I got a letter from Shon last night.  Everything is good.  She’s doing okay, still in Cobb County waiting for transfer to clear up the other mess in Dekalb County.  No idea when she will be home (again).  I miss her so much.  I can’t believe we’ve made it all the way through this mess together (and still going).

6.  A good bunch of us had to stay in this morning to have a TB test done.  I am tired of having them done.  Apparently someone tested positive up at Alto and they have to test everyone who has been around that person, eaten in the same dining hall, etc.  It is probably a nightmare up there.

7.  I am feeling like my old self again, have been since Friday.  I had no idea how much different from my usual self I was.  When the prison doctor put me on Reglan for my acid reflux issues, he didn’t tell me how dramatic the side effects were.  Among other things (really big things), it caused the depression and serious weight gain.  I thought the weight gain was from my atmosphere, although I thought it weird to suddenly gain 20 lbs. when I managed to maintain this long.  And the funk, I just thought it was environment, too, but same thing – I thought it was weird to make it this far without serious depression.  Fortunately, the funk is gone.  Hopefully the weight will go away quickly, too – that in itself is depressing!  It’s just good to be back to my old self.

8.  My anxiety has dissipated along with the other side effects.  I am still nervous about leaving and finding a job, etc.  But I am not as out of control scared like I was.  I know I’m going to be alright.  I am keeping my sights on going home – home home, to St. Louis home.  I cannot wait to visit for a whole week!

9.  Ms. Ellis snuck Chik-fil-a into LA and I.  Just a little, but it was enough to make us giggle like little school girls.  I’ll never take those little treats for granted!

10.  It seems that not only will Mike and I be seeing the Dixie Chicks in October, but we’ll be seeing them from… the FIRST row!!  I don’t think we’ve done a first row concert yet.  This is a hell of a way to kick off concert season (for us)!!  I can’t wait!!

 

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

 

1.  The day is not off to the best start.  We get our T&I and any special money we are due for the week. I got my T&I, but they didn’t give me my special for my scheduled eye exam and contacts Friday.  I have no idea why, and my counselor is on vacation.  There is nothing that could be done to get the money now this week even if she were here.  But I am so sick of having to go through all of this and keep changing days/times off at work, etc.  I was REALLY looking forward going and getting my contacts again.  I am really bummed about this.

2.  There is another rumor of a shakedown, but I don’t think it’s another compound-wide one (the ones we really fear).  I think that they are becoming more proactive.  They very rarely do random locker shakedowns like they’re supposed to anymore.  On Saturday Ofc. Channel did 2 thorough room shakedowns, which is something we hadn’t seen in a long time.  I guess they are going to gradually do that around the compound at random.  I am hoping I am not the target until after this weekend so I can get my excess stuff out.  It doesn’t help that I just got a package AND went shopping.  I’ll get a DR for sure if they shake me down now.  Whatever.  I kind of don’t care anymore, though a DR would be painful.

4.  I am basking in the silence today.  It’s quiet in the office, as it has been since the Legislative session ended.  However, you know I am always complaining about Oliver, the guy who runs the little store across the hall – he whistles all day long, loudly, and it bounces off the marble walls, so it sounds like he’s standing right next to you.  It just drives me insane for whatever reason.  Well, he’s obviously not running the store today.  It’s dead silent and a beautiful thing (it is the little things that matter these days).

5.  Unfortunately, Mike was unable to eat breakfast with me this morning because he forgot his ID (the thugs at the entrances of the State building won’t let you in without one).  So he could only make a food delivery and visit for a moment before leaving.  It was lonely without him.

6.  On the upside, Gayle and I have Houston’s for lunch.  Yum!!  Knife ‘n Fork BBQ ribs and Prime Rib with mashed potatoes, beans, coleslaw and ceasar salad.  Dessert is apple walnut cobbler and 5 nut brownie.  Yum!!  This once-a-week feast is certainly help me mark the passing weeks!!

7.  Scratch what I said about the easy silence of no whistling Oliver.  He’s here and he’s at it full force.

 

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Thursday, June 15, 2006

 

1.  I didn’t get to finish my update yesterday as it was crazy and busy in here.  It seems to be staying that way.  I am busy from the time I come in until I leave (this is a good thing).

2.  We watched ‘So you think you can dance’ last night.  It is the only show that has remotely caught my attention this season.  I like it much better now that I can see some actual dancing.

3.  Missy got into a situation with Ms. Ellis Monday night, and she’s pretty much got to flex and stand up for herself.  She’s taking it well.  It leaves me in an interesting place with Moo, though I think it’s really childish.

4.  Today is my sister’s birthday.  Happy birthday, Seester!  I really wish I could celebrate with her, but I’ll make up for it when I come home.

 6.  Houston’s leftovers today – woo hoo!!

7.  I am having orange juice mixed with Sprite.  It is almost like sipping on a Mimosa.  But not.  It’s quite good.

9.  They fired and intern yesterday because he was handwriting letters and signing them with the Governor’s name and sending them out.  No one said the State hires rocket scientists.

10.  I am thinking of re-piercing my nose again when I get out.  I definitely am going to if I know I can get away with it on a job.  I guess it depends on what my job future holds.  But I REALLY miss it.

11.  Ms. Channel comes back on her 4-day rotation tomorrow.  I am dreading it.  She is by far my least favorite officer.  I cannot stand her and she cannot stand me, so I guess we have a mutual agreement.  She makes me the most nervous because she’s the one always looking for something.

12.  I’ll feel better when Saturday comes and I can send a lot of my excess property (books, letters, clothes, etc.) out to Kelly and get them out of my locker.  After that, I really have no reason to fear a shakedown.  Right now, though, I am sweating bullets.

13.  Gayle is too kind to me.  We had leftover brownie from yesterday, and when she went to run errands, she picked up ice cream for us – Blue Bell vanilla and dutch chocolate.  I miss ice cream!  It was so good!

14.  I must try Lush bath products when I come home (www.lush.com).  I’ve heard nothing but good things about them from reliable sources.

 

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Friday, June 16, 2006

 

1.  Aside from the terrible incident (see previous entry) this morning, the day has been good.

2.  We just had Jason’s Deli for lunch – it’s so good.  I can’t believe they do online ordering now.

3.  I am enjoying good music today.

4.  “Stairway to Heaven” is on.  It reminds me of when I went to a dance in 10th grade when I was ‘going out’ with Paul Sanders : )

5.  I can’t believe I actually watched the Brittney Spears interview on Dateline last night.

6.  Turns out I don’t have much to blog about today.

7.  Oh, forgot the other thing I was irate about.  Remember I didn’t get my money for the eye doctor/contacts Wednesday?  Ms. Calvert told me last night that Ms. Campbell has suddenly changed her mind on this subject (as in just this last week) – she’s decided suddenly that if you didn’t come to MTC with contacts, you can’t get them while you are here.  WTF?  NO ONE comes to MTC with contacts because they aren’t allowed in prison.  Nevermind the other 8 or 9 people on my hall alone that have contacts!!  But Ms. Campbell wouldn’t approve it for that reason.  Whatever.  I don’t give a flying f*** anymore.  They’ve only got 74 more days to tell me what I can and cannot do.

 

Under Scrutiny

I am an emotional wreck this morning.  I finally reached my breaking point I think.

 

As I previously mentioned, the LT shook me down when I came in from work last week (we get shook down every time we return to the Center) and saw my tattoo.  She claims she’s never seen it before and that it’s brand new.  I tried to tell her that it’s 11 years old, that I got it in college in 1995, but she doesn’t believe me.  For a minute, I thought she was half joking, but she was serious.  She ended up having another officer look at it and write up an incident report to do an investigation.

 

Twice this week, once on Wednesday and twice last night, various officers have asked to see my tattoo.  LT has been hounding them, asking them to look at it for whatever reason.  I’ve not been giving it much attention because I figured at worst, they would look in my file as part of the investigation and find that it was marked when I was arrested (as is protocol).  So I just figured it would blow over.  Considering it’s obvious to me and anyone of my peers that the tattoo doesn’t even look new, I really thought LT would have more important issues to deal with.  Apparently not – she’s kept me her priority.

 

As my bus pulled up this morning, I went up to the CO desk to get my ID to leave for work, and LT says, “Settlemoir, you need to step into the CO booth.”  I said, “Ma’am, my bus is here.”  She said, “You’re going to miss this one, if I even let you go to work at all.”

 

So I go in there, and I already know what it’s about.  She brings Ms. Bowman over with her.  Ms. Bowman is the nasty officer who made the comment a few months ago that she can’t understand ‘how an inmate like me got a job at the Governor’s office’.  She takes me to the corner and asks me to lift my shirt so they can look at my tattoo for the hundredth time this week.  I do.  She shakes here head and says, “See Ms. Bowman?  There’s no way that’s an old tattoo.  That’s new, isn’t it?”

 

I just sighed and shook my head, and Ms. Bowman says, “Settlemoir, no one asked you.”  LT looks at me and says, “Now, Settlemoir, I want you to tell me where you got this tattoo.  I’m tired of asking.”

 

I said, “LT, I’ve already told you.  I got this tattoo in St. Louis back in 1995 when I was in college.  It is 11 years old.  I didn’t just get this tattoo.”  She said she didn’t believe me that it looks too new, and that I need to prove it.  She said that I would be held in from work today, and if it’s decided so, I could be sent back to prison immediately because getting tattoos while incarcerated is strictly forbidden. 

 

I, out of natural instinct, protested once more that I didn’t just get a new tattoo.  I even asked, in a rather raised voice, if they thought I left work and went to a tattoo parlor during my lunch break.  And of course being threatened with being sent back to prison got me quite upset, and my eyes started watering.  Ms. Bowman was smirking at me like the whole thing was funny and said, “It’s not going to get you out of it to start crying like that.”

 

LT said if I had no way to prove it, it’s a done deal because she’s had 5 or 6 officers look at my file and they can’t find anything that says I have a tattoo.  So now I’m being punished for the authorities not marking my record.  LT says, “Lift up your shirt and turn around.  Don’t you have a tattoo on your back, too?”  I said no, and did as I was told.  LT said, “I thought you did.”  See?  No one can remember anything about anyone’s tattoos since nearly EVERYONE at the Center has one, and there over 200 of us that get shook down everyday.

 

I told her I think I have a picture in my locker with the tattoo.  She said I better go get it and it better be several years old, because I’ve run out of chances.  By now, I’m a crying mess.

 

I got to my locker mad as hell and find the only picture I have of my tattoo.  It’s my ‘muscle’ picture from 1999 when I was really tan.  You can barely see it because of the tan, but it’s there.  I took the picture up to the front.  She was going through some paperwork, so I stood outside the CO booth and waited.  Ms. Calvert, my counselor, had come in since then.  She looked up and saw I was a mess and asked what’s wrong.  I told her LT was on me because of my tattoo and that I have no idea what’s going to happen.

 

Ms. Calvert already knew about the situation because I told her about it last week when she overheard LT talking about it to another officer.  LT called me in at that point, and Ms. Calvert came over to us and said in a really stern voice to LT, “What’s going on here?”  LT told her that she thinks I’ve gone out and gotten a new tattoo because she doesn’t remember ever seeing it.  I lifted my shirt to show Ms. Calvert, and she said, “What?  You can tell that’s not new.  It’s worn and faded.” 

 

LT told Ms. Calvert that she’s never seen it before.  Ms. Calvert said again that there’s no way it’s a new tattoo.  Then LT changed her story and said, “Well, it looks like someone’s been drawing over it to make it darker.”  WTF?

 

LT looked at the photo and said, “Okay, Settlemoir, how do we know this picture isn’t recent?”  Are you kidding me?  I haven’t been home on pass yet, and the picture was obviously not taken in prison.  Not to mention I look 5 years younger and dark tan!!

 

Ms. Calvert just shook her head, not at all amused by this.  She asked LT if anyone looked in my file for markings.  LT said yes, she and 5 or 6 officers did and found nothing, that all the spaces for tattoos and scars were blank.  Ms. Calvert snatched the file out of LT’s hands (literally) and started looking through it.  She looked at me and silently said ‘we aren’t going down like this.’  Ms. Calvert knew I was telling the truth.

 

She shuffled through, looking at each sheet.  I guess there’s one sheet that was the obvious place for it – one that gets filled out when you go to Diagnostics.  They put all your info there for your file.  BUT I am under First Offender, and they didn’t do that.  My heart sunk a little.  She looks for about 5 more minutes, meanwhile LT was standing there half-smiling and making notes on some paperwork and looking impatient.  I started to give up on finding any paperwork, and just hoped Ms. Calvert could defend me enough to get me out of this.

 

Suddenly, Ms. Calvert held up my file and nearly threw it at LT.  There it was – an information sheet showing I had a tattoo.  Not only did it say I had one on my stomach, it said it was specifically an African Chameleon.  It makes me wonder what LT and the 5 or 6 other officers were looking at when they supposedly looked through my file.

 

LT looked at it, handed my picture back to me, closed the file and walked away.  Just like that.  No apology, no nothing.  Ms. Calvert looked at me as if to apologize for her.  I just asked if I could go to work now, and Ms. Calvert said, “Yes.”

 

I went to my room to get cleaned up as best I could, but I couldn’t stop crying.  Moo asked if I was okay, as did a lot of other people who were concerned.  I’m over it, but I’m still mad.  I understand the security reasons for investigating, but how are you going to accuse me of lying and getting a tattoo, then when you are blatantly wrong, not even apologize?!

 

I got to work and I was still teary-eyed.  Gayle was really concerned and asked what happened.  I had called and left her a VM saying I’d be late, so she could tell I was upset about something.  I told her what happened, and she was not amused.  She said that if something did happen and she was told that I was in trouble or sent back to prison, she and Kay would be on the phone with the Commissioner getting to the bottom of it.  She knew about the tattoo situation, and she thought it was ridiculous.

 

It’s good to know that people will go to bat for me without thinking twice.  I don’t know what I would do without Ms. Calvert.  She’s been a true blessing to me.

 

I’ve typed this in such detail to use for future reference if necessary.  I’m going to talk to Ms. Calvert about it to see if anything can be done (grievances, complaints, etc.).  This way, I’ll have all the details.

Monday, June 19, 2006

 

1.  It’s been a verrry busy day for me.  Gayle is out, so I am handling mail by myself, except Norris is sorting the stuff I am unsure of.  It’s great to be busy.

2.  The Center called me about an hour ago, which made me nervous.  Seems they forgot to sign me out this morning.  That was at 7:15 a.m.  Nice to know they didn’t discover this until around 1:30 p.m.

3.  This morning, LT and Ms. Bowman were both up in the CO booth.  I ignored them both as best I could.  LT and I never had to face each other.  Ms. Bowman was the one to give us the OK to leave the building when the bus got there.  She waved me over to the side of the booth and said, “Settlemoir, are you feeling better this week, especially now that you know you were crying for nothing?” or something to that effect.  She was smiling and I guess trying to be friendly to help repair the damage (much too late), though it had a bit of a sarcastic edge to it.  I just smiled, somewhat sarcastically, and said, “Yes, ma’am.” And left. 

4.  I am pretty much over the situation.  It got too much of my energy as it is. I’m going to let it be until Ms. Calvert gets back and ask her what she thinks I should do.  At the very least, I at want to write a very direct letter to the LT giving her my side of things.  I want a copy to go to Ms. Campbell and in my file and to anyone else that is appropriate.  My goal isn’t necessarily to get her ‘in trouble’, because fighting against this system is near impossible, but maybe it will help in the overall fight.  And of course, if it’s grievable, I will be submitting a grievance.  At the very least, though, I want the LT to be aware of her actions, even if it doesn’t make a difference.  At least I didn’t just roll over.

5.  I miss Teri. I got a very nice email from her this morning (from the weekend).  I can’t wait to reconnect with her.

6.  I had a good visit with Kelly this weekend.  He brought the thumbnail pictures from my sister’s wedding.  I am so sad that I missed it.  From what I could see, she was absolutely beautiful, as was my mom.  I just can’t wait to go home and be with them again.

7.  He also told me that Shon called him Friday evening and asked him if he’d tell me to call her.  I can’t believe it – she’s finally home!!  Much to my dismay, I’ve been trying to call her, and I just get her voicemail.  At least now it’s her actual voicemail with her voice, but I can’t get through to her.  If I don’t hear from her by Wednesday, I am going to call her best friend and see if I can connect with her.

8.  Moo said this weekend that they might switch her to days.  LA and I are praying she stays on nights.  Her being back at the Center every night will make my time much harder.

9.  I sent a lot of property out with Kelly this weekend so my locker is within pretty good compliance.  I am no longer sweating a shakedown (not over anything major anyway).

10.  I was in a weird position today.  I am doing the mail sorting since Gayle is out.  I got a letter and in the first sentence it mentions a resident at Metro Transitional Center (where I am).  It was a letter on behalf of one of my friends.  I guess it was just weird to be the one to get it.

 

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

 

1.  I am drained and unmotivated today.  I just feel blech.

2.  LA and I were not amused that Moo was off of work last night.  It really throws off our groove.  She’s so loud and stressful.  Just as we fall asleep, she’ll come busting in and talking loud, etc.  We don’t realize how negative she is and how much she stresses us out until we actually have to deal with her on a week night.

4.  I am definitely getting tired of the same exact routine and schedule every single day.  I know life in the real world can be that way, but not like this.  I definitely give great respect to anyone who’s served serious time.

5.  I think I am ready to have something to talk about other than prison.  It’s such an old topic.  It makes conversation with ‘normal’ people hard, because it’s all I have to talk about.  Same with my blog.  I am sure everyone is tired of the subject.  I know I am.

7.  I am really truly bored with this day.  The thought have having another 2.5 months worth of these days is depressing and exhausting.

9.  Also, tomorrow is breakfast with Mike and lunch.  I am excited – I live for Wednesdays!

10.  I’ve got to force myself back onto a positive track tomorrow!

 

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

 

1.  Today has been slightly overwhelming.  It seems everything starts to happen at the same time.

2.  First, the good news.  Kay, our director, stopped me today and said she had a meeting with Brian Owen, the Assistant Commissioner of the Department of Corrections, Monday.  She apparently raved about me and how well I was working out.  She told him that she really wanted to hire me permanently but there aren’t any positions available at the moment, and also that I had a keen interest in the GDC (and gave history on why, etc.).  He asked her to send my resume immediately so he can consider some options or at least see if he can find some openings for me.  How sweet is that?  That might be my foot in the door.

3.  Also, she said she called our job counselor at the Center Friday because she wants to take me out to lunch, but she knew she had to get permission first.  She hasn’t heard back yet (I have a feeling they will deny it just for good measure).  But it’s sweet of her to offer.

5.  Met Mike for breakfast – it was great.  We had TGIF’s today – I had a very unhealthy bacon cheeseburger (three kinds of cheese) and Sesame Jack Daniels Chicken Strips, and Gayle and I shared the Cinnabon Cheesecake and triple chocolate cake.  I am satisfied!

6.  LA had an incident with an officer last night that may have topped my tattoo incident.  I am so mad, and my blood is boiling for her.  I’ll have to explain it tomorrow since I’m running out of time.

 

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

 

1.  I got the thumbnail pictures from my sister’s wedding in the mail last night, along with the photocopies of the program.  It was great to sit and look at the pictures.  It made me really sad, though, seeing the program and my families names in the wedding party, etc.  And the photos.  I can’t wait to get the real pictures!!

2.  I thought long and hard about life beyond August 31 on the bus ride this morning.  I am trying to gear myself up to going back to life as I know it.  I am looking forward to contacting the Georgia State Defense Force about coming back to the medical detachment unit as a medic.  My picture from the last drill/inspection I went to is still up on the website (http://www.meddet.com/photogallery.php - I am in the photo at the top of the page).

3.  “So you think you can dance” was great last night.  I truly enjoy that show.

4.  Today has been busy, and not much has been going on to report.

5.  I know I’m frustrated because I’m all mentally geared up and ready to take action and make things happen, and can’t do a damn thing about it except continue to think on it!!

 

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Friday, June 23, 2006

 

1.  The Governor just came down and presented Gayle and I with our Employee of the Month certificates!  He was in a hurry, but he was very kind and complimentary.  He apologized for having to rush off as he was leaving to go out of town for two weeks, but he promised to come back down when he returned.  He's going to have his picture taken with me.  Also, it has been approved by the Center for me to go to lunch with her and Gayle next Tuesday.

2.  We just had a staff meeting.  It was… interesting.  Some of the people I work with are… interesting.

3.  Gayle and I enjoyed a nice, fresh, ripe canalope for lunch, courtesy of leftovers from the Governor.  It was so delicious – I miss fresh fruit!  We are also enjoying yogurt-covered pecans and walnuts, fresh salted cashews and chocolate-covered raisins, macadamias and peanuts.  They are soooo good.

4.  I am sad that my special visit didn’t get approved for this weekend.  I won’t get to see Mike or Dawn : (

5.  I am in the 60s!!  Only 68 and a wake-up to go!

 

 The Governor just came down and presented Gayle and I with our Employee of the Month certificates!  He was in a hurry, but he was very kind and complimentary.  He apologized for having to rush off as he was leaving to go out of town for two weeks, but he promised to come back down when he returned.  He's going to have his picture taken with me.  Also, it has been approved by the Center for me to go to lunch with her and Gayle next Tuesday.

 

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Monday, June 26, 2006

 

1.  My mind is a scattered mess this morning.  I’m not down or anything, just… distracted.  I guess because something/someone(s) caught me off guard today and has my mind running.  I’ll have to do a full entry on that one later.

2.  We just had a false alarm – we all evacuated for whatever reason, then had to come back. Very interesting.  It’s weird to mock our 5 monthly alarms at the Center then to take one seriously at the Capitol!!

3.  I was brave yesterday and called Paul.  It is so nice talking to him.  It’s not real substantial, personal convo, but it flows nice, and he seems genuinely happy to hear from me.  We discussed me helping him out with his cleaning business when I’m home.  It’s his second business, and it’s growing too quick for him to do on his own.

4.  This weather sucks today.  It was good and stormy over the weekend, which made for good rest yesterday.  This a.m. I was soaked and cold.

5.  I got the actual photos from Nikki’s wedding.  They are great!  I loved sharing them with everyone.  Of course it was really hard to keep realizing how much I missed out on.

6.  The weekend was really non-descript.  Very.  Other than calling Paul, everything was as usual.  Visitation with Kelly was good.  I spent a lot of time with headphones on.

7.  If anyone uses MySpace, please let me know.  I’m not on there much, but it would be nice to have my blog pals on my list. 

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

 

1.  Seems that Gayle and I will be having lunch with Kay at Mick’s today for our Employee of the Month luncheon.  Yay!  I miss Mick’s.  It will be nice to actually drive to a restaurant, order a meal and enjoy the atmorsphere.

3.  My sister sent me the link to her photographer’s website where her wedding proofs are posted.  Her pictures are amazing.  I had to stop looking at them for a minute because my eyes started to well up with tears.

6.  Due to the torrential rain yesterday, part of the roof came down onto the Governor’s desk.  I guess it’s a mess up there.

7.  We had the pleasure of being shook down by LT yesterday.  There were 10 of us that came in at the same time, and she was going through the procedure ridiculously slow.  We didn’t speak – I just did what I was supposed to exactly right.  When I had to strip down, all kinds of things were running through my head, like telling her to take note of my tattoo.  But I know that is childish.  We had not a single thing to say to each other.

8.  Change of plans – Mick’s is apparently closed, so we had Johnny Rocket’s.  It was SO good.  I miss French fries so much!  It was also good to visit with Kay and Gayle away from the office.  They are truly working on a future for me here at the Capitol.  It may be a slow process, but they’re trying.

9.  We just got back from lunch, and it’s almost time for me to go : )

10.  I am feeling not so blah today.  And I’ve got breakfast with Mike to look forward to!

 

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

 

1.  Breakfast with Mike was great – omelet’s all around!!

2.  I am back to riding the bus with Missy every afternoon.  I’ve missed riding with her.  She keeps me sane.

3.  Ingram, a resident that I absolutely cannot stand, did her best to get me in trouble this morning.  It backfired.  Ha!

4.  I can’t believe I am 30 years old and talking about another grown woman ‘getting me in trouble’.  This is absurd.

5.  Missy and I have discovered that we are so used to living with drama, noise, unnecessary bickering and negativity that we cannot imagine life otherwise.

6.  It should be a busy day here at the capitol today, as there are many hot issues on the Governor’s plate:  same-sex marriage legislation, the Governor being sued by the sex offenders, the firefighters were denied a raise by the Mayor, Fulton County Jail deputies are staging a walk out today and more.  I love it!!

8.  I am enjoying Neil Boortz this morning.  I like having him streaming again!

9.  I love the Foo Fighters.  Can’t get enough.

10.  Our roast beef from the Georgia Diner was fantastic today!!  So was the Sin Cake and Cheesecake from Ruth’s Chris.  I am so full.

11.  The more I think about being Libertarian (though I despise labels), the more I think it makes sense for me.

 

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Thursday, June 29, 2006

 

1.  Neil Boortz is talking about the big sex offender issue today.  I can’t believe some of the situations I am hearing.  I mean, I hear a lot considering I read the Governor’s mail, but this is ridiculous!!  I am definitely in agreement with him on this one.

3.  Holy frijoles!  I just got an email from Paul, a friend I graduated from high school with.  He and his wife just had a baby.  I didn’t even know she was pregnant.  I am so happy for them.  It makes me realize how long I’ve really been here!

5.  Roast beef was great on day 2!!  : )

 

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Friday, June 30, 2006

 

1.  I am so glad it’s Friday.  Me = very, very tired.

2.  We were awoken at 5 a.m. for a fire drill.  We usually get to sleep until 6:30, but they wouldn’t let us go back to sleep, we had to stay up and clean.

3.  Such things don’t usually bother me, but it is tiring hearing about everyone’s plans for 4th of July (in the office).  I think what makes it so hard is they always forget and ask what I’m doing.

4.  It was very interesting to overhear a man’s conversation in the State building this morning about his experience with disgruntled inmates.  None of them would ever realize I’m an inmate myself.

5.  I talked to Ms. Calvert last night.  There is nothing I can do about what LT did last week since it was a matter of security.  She was VERY disappointed, though, that LT didn’t have the decency to apologize.  She said I could write a letter to Ms. Campbell and/or LT, but it won’t do any good and will probably put me under worse scrutiny.  Call me selfish, but I am probably going to forgo doing that since I am trying to go home on pass.  Maybe I should step up and do more, but I’m tired.  In 60 days, none of this will really matter anyway.  And I have to submit a letter to Ms. Campbell via Ms. Calvert stating my case about going home.  Ms. Calvert is optimistic that she’s going to approve it.

6.  Mail call was like Christmas last night.  I got a letter from Shon, a prison creative writing newsletter, my Muscle & Fitness magazine, an oversized package of free books from one of the prison Buddhism organizations.  That last one was the biggest surprise, since I thought they might send one or two – but there were 6 books!

7.  I am looking forward to tomorrow.  LA works and Moo is going on 9 hour passes now, so I’ll be alone in my room from 11 a.m. until at least 6:45 p.m.  Then LA and I will still have an hour before Moo returns.  Kelly is graciously coming on Sunday so I can have that time alone.  I’m so excited!!

8.  The day is looking up.  I am having Jason’s Deli for lunch : )  That’ll help make up for my runny scrambled eggs this morning.

9.  Even better – Benny & Joon is on tomorrow.  That’s one of my most favorite movies!

10.  Tomorrow is officially 60 days.  I’ll be able to say “I’m going home next month!”

 

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Monday, July 03, 2006

 

1.  I am so happy it’s July.  I can officially say I’m going home NEXT MONTH!

2.  Unfortunately, it seems like an eternity.  These last two months can’t go by quick enough.

3.  I have officially submitted my letter to Ms. Campbell via Ms. Calvert requesting to go home on pass these last two months.

4.  Major rumor mill is abuzz:  We have heard rumor from more than one separate source or entity that Ms. Campbell is departing MTC as superintendent next month!  The supposed incoming superintendent is Capt. Gulley, who was a Captain up at Lee Arrendale when I was there.  He has been running a prison work camp in Clayton County, and it sounds as though the two are switching places.  I have a feeling she has come under too much scrutiny here (mainly because of the male counselor being investigated) and they need to move her.  I am thrilled about this!  For one, I was hoping for a man to run the Center.  Two, I remember him to be a very fair and down to business.  As long as you do what you are supposed to do and you treat him with respect, he will do so in return.  I think he would make a great superintendent.  I am hesitant of course to believe rumors, but seriously, these in-depth details had to come from somewhere.  Furthermore, the last major rumor I heard came into fruition:  Metro State Prison, the prison next to our transitional center, has been appointed a new warden.  Technically, that warden is over us as well.  Thyrone, the previous warden, rarely visited the Center (we are like step-children).  There has been a lot of buzz about the new warden – he is apparently a very good looking white man.  Also, Ms. Uhbre, the woman who was in charge of us in Diagnostics (Hitler’s daughter) and who has been there for several decades, is gone.  A former officer at MSP whom LA has contact with has left to start with the State Patrol next week, and said that 8 officers have resigned as well (not sure if it was voluntary or forced).  We heard these rumors a few weeks ago, and now it has been confirmed as true.  So I guess it’s safe to say that Commissioner Donald is cleaning house.  I see now why I haven’t seen him in a long time. 

5.  Brian Owen, the assistant commissioner, just popped in to see when I am leaving and to check up on me.  He took note that I am looking to have a career in corrections (administration), and said he’d see what he could do for me.  I have truly been blessed to work with such amazing people.

6.  I just saw all the press releases on the GDC website, and I see that 10 prisons are being appointed new wardens, and 4 probation/work release centers are being appointed new superintendents.  I guess it seems likely that we’ll be seeing a press release soon for our Center.

7.  We received a letter today from the husband of a former inmate and resident of MTC.  Apparently, the woman became involved with her manager at the same company LA works for (different location), and both extorted money from the husband’s bank account and other financial situations.  The man mentioned Ms. Campbell’s name, saying he reported these issues to her, and she did nothing, only passed them along to someone at the GDC.  He reports that the GDC told him to keep quiet or he, too, would be incarcerated.  Verrrry strange.

8.  I hope that this situation with change of Superintendents or whatever won’t affect my trying to go home on pass.  I have a feeling if anything, though, it will improve my chances.  Ms. Campbell has taken to making decisions based on her emotional house.

9.  This weekend was blah.  I was not feeling very well.  I know my immune system is weak from little to no exercise and not having been on a healthy diet for a year and a half.  I had a sore throat starting Saturday morning, and I think it followed with a fever Saturday night/Sunday.  I stayed in the bed from Friday evening through Sunday morning.  I slept almost all day Saturday as best I could (Moo!!).  Sunday I went to visitation, but it wore me out, so Kelly made me go back to bed.

10.  Yes, about Moo… she kept LA and I up almost all night Friday night.  She was off of work and Ellis was working, too.  So she was in and out of the room all night, slamming the door and her locker, people kept poking their heads in looking for her, etc.  She didn’t go to bed until 5:30 a.m., just as LA was leaving for work.  So LA didn’t get much sleep and was really pissed at her.  We can tell her time and time again how rude and inconsiderate she is, but it doesn’t seem to do any good.

11.  Oh, and remember how excited I was about having the day to myself with Moo going on her first 9-hour pass?  Yeah, well, that didn’t happen.  I woke her up at 10:30 a.m. because she was to leave at 11 a.m.  When I woke her up, she said, “I need to go call my mom, but I don’t think I’m going home.”  Apparently a small emergency arose at home and she couldn’t go.  You have NO idea how badly I wanted to cry when she told me she was going to be there all day.  So, yeah, I shared the whole day (weekend) with her.

12.  I treated myself to a (machine made) French Vanilla cappuccino this morning.  It was okay.  Soon enough I’ll be enjoying a Foglifter from San Francisco Coffee : )

13.  I can’t believe tomorrow is Independence Day.  The last time I truly celebrated was in 2004 when Bri visited and we all got drunk at Mako’s and injured ourselves falling out of the Taxi in front of myself.  Ahh, those were the days.

14.  A year ago last Saturday, I was transferred from Diagnostics to Lee Arrendale, where I finally got my coveted browns and became GP (general population).  In a way, it feels like that was many years ago.  I got there the day they had their July 4th talent show thing.

15.  I received a packet I requested from the Libertarian Party Friday.  The more information I read about the party, the more I like it.  That’s not to say I will ever strictly vote Libertarian, because I never vote on party.  But I am definitely more inline with their issues than any other party.

16.  I think I’m understanding why it’s so easy to become blah these days.  I can’t seem to find a delicate balance between staying focused on my plans for the future and yet keeping my motivation and excitement in check because I can’t act on it.  Usually your first response to planning your goal setting is taking action.  For instance, I’ve had organizations from VolunteerMatch contact me about great opportunities (I am expanding my experience in research and grant writing via volunteering); all I can do is get excited about it, I can’t actually act on it.  Or like with talking to mentors or experienced people in my career field.  Or shoot, even looking for a job.  All I can do is keep stuff on paper, waiting for August 31.  I guess it’s just tough to have all this energy ready to go, and nowhere to go with it.

17.  I missed the Frontline special on Methamphetamine last night, so I looked it up on the Frontline homepage.  I am quite impressed with the information they provided on Meth and the epidemic.  It is truly sad to see what this drug is doing to people.

 

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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

 

1.  At least it’s Wednesday already, and my last major incarcerated holiday is out of the way.

2.  No excitement yesterday – reading and sleeping, really.

3.  LA has a ‘friend’ at the men’s transitional center next door to us.  If any of you are fans of Margaret Mitchell (“Gone with the Wind” author), you know she was killed when hit by a speeding taxi crossing Peachtree Street here in Atlanta.  Well, her friend’s grandfather was the one driving the taxi.  He served 18 months for involuntary manslaughter.  How’s that for a claim to fame?

4.  The Center was chaos this morning.  Lots of girls going home (about 7 or 8 I think) and LT was there early to serve DRs (disciplinary reports – things you don’t want).  I was all too ready to get out of there!

5.  Today seems like the longest day ever.  And I have a headache to boot.

6.  I have decided that today, Mike and I should be on the patio at Fontaine’s having oysters (and a stiff drink!).

7.  In preparation for the pre-season, which starts one month from this week for the Rams, I logged on and saw that they have released the 2005 wallpapers.  They FINALLY have one for Stephen Jackson (#39).  It is now my desktop : )  I am ready for some football!

9.  Conversation had between Missy and me Monday evening while waiting to be shook down:

 

Me:  I’m sad.  I broke my alarm clock.  I loved that alarm clock.

Missy:  How did you break it?  It seemed pretty durable.

Me:  It seems I have more real estate on the backside than I realized and misjudged when I sat down.

Missy:  Well, you might want to think about closing the deal on that real estate…

Thursday, July 06, 2006

 

1.  Fantastic lunch ahead – filet and salmon from Longhorn, sided by baked potato and dessert!

2.  Our MARTA train was held up for like 15 minutes at the King Memorial station.  I am hoping that isn’t a sign of what’s to come for the day.

3.  We have a man outside on the Capitol steps protesting the Vatican.  He’s got his arsenal of posters laid out on the walkway claiming that the Vatican supported Hitler and killed all the Jews and that they all molest children (or something to that effect).  I love my job.  The GBI was unavailable, so Gayle and I went to investigate : )

4.  A group of small children here on a field trip – they couldn’t be more than 5 or 6 – just walked by on the Capitol lawn.  They were so cute.  Each one had their ‘buddy’ that they were holding hands with, walking two by two.

5.  I have to remember that I’m leaving at 2 p.m. (in just an hour) to pick up my Rx refills from Grady.

6.  Kay said she spoke to the lady over at the GDC.  She said she received my resume and is passing it on.  Kay also is going to contact the DOAS because they are over all the graphics, etc.  That would be cool, to do Graphics for the State government.

7.  Lunch was fantastic!!

8.  I am not amused by the ruling on the gay marriage ban.

 

 It's a sad day in Georgia... I was really hoping this wouldn't happen...  What really sets me off is the last sentence in the statement.  We were misled on our ballot.

 

Georgia's top court reinstates gay marriage ban

Thursday, July 6, 2006 Posted: 1524 GMT (2324 HKT)

 

ATLANTA, Georgia (AP) -- The state Supreme Court reinstated Georgia's constitutional ban on gay marriage Thursday, just hours after New York's highest court upheld that state's gay marriage ban.

The Georgia Supreme Court, reversing a lower court judge's ruling, decided unanimously that the ban did not violate the state's single-subject rule for ballot measures. Superior Court Judge Constance Russell of Fulton County had ruled that it did.

 

Seventy-six percent of Georgia voters approved the ban when it was on the ballot in 2004.

 

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Friday, July 07, 2006

 

BIG, HUGE NEWS – I FINALLY WON ONE!!

 

It took 8 months to do it, but I FINALLY got approved to go home on pass!!!  I came in early yesterday since I had to go to Grady.  Ms. Calvert, my counselor, was in the CO booth and said she needed to talk to me once I got settled in.  She has a good poker face, and I assumed there was a problem with my pass request since she seemed so solemn.  She came and got me in my room about 20 minutes later, and said she needed to verify my home phone number in comparison to Kelly’s cell phone number.

 

Then she said, “Well, Ms. Campbell approved your pass request, then I put it before classification yesterday, and they unanimously voted to allow me to start going home on pass, and they agreed I should’ve been going home all along.  So I guess my letter did some good.  If it weren’t for the holiday, I probably would’ve been able to go home this weekend, but passes have to be in by Wednesday, and that’s the day they did classification.  So next weekend I should be headed home.  All that’s left is Ms. Calvert has to explain the situation to Ms. Elder who is over all the passes, but since everyone else approved, this shouldn’t be a problem.

 

I am too excited!  I get 12-hour passes, but with travel time I will only get about 6-8 hours at home.  Who cares – who am I to complain?  All I want to do anyway is spend some time in my quiet house, reading, watching DVDs, loving my cats, writing, doing whatever I want to do without the stress of the Center.  And I’ll be able to call my family!!!!!  That makes me so happy!

 

1.  I just had my picture taken with the Governor FINALLY!  He had a press event in his racing suit, and let us come up for pictures.  It’s cool.  When I get the picture, I’ll post it.

2.  Just after I got the good news about going home, I was hit with the not-so-good news of Moo going to work on days.  She is the roommate that is very loud and inconsiderate.  Her working 3rd shift has been a blessing because she leaves at 8 p.m. and returns at 7:30 a.m. as I’m leaving.  Her telling us she’s going on days crushed us.  However, it turns out she’ll likely be on 2nd shift, leaving around 1 p.m. and returning around 1 a.m.  So at least we’ll still have our evenings without her, but her coming in at 1 a.m. will be a problem.  She’s not quiet about anything, so we’ll see how that works out.  If she gets out of hand, revenge will be easy, as she’ll be dead asleep when LA gets up at 5 a.m. and I get up at 6:30 a.m.  We can both make sure to return the favor.  I think LA and I are tired of living like this and taking back our room!

3.  I just had a big meeting with Kay, my Director.  She said we all have to start marking lunch on our timesheet.  I don’t usually take a lunch, I just work through (since I can’t go anywhere, do anything).  But to make up for it, she got something special approved for me.  They have an online class program here available to permanent government employees.  I shouldn’t qualify because I am temporary status, but because of my situation, she got approval for me to take advantage of it.  And since I don’t have internet access anywhere but here, I can use my new required lunch hour to take the class(s).  The best part – the classes are completely free.  Once I complete the course, I turn in the completion form and I am reimbursed 100%.  This is fantastic!  I am starting with the Non-Profit Grant Writing Course, which I’ve realllly been wanting to do. 

4.  Earl, the man who is like the catch-all interior decorator/coordinator/in charge of the Butlers guy from the Governor’s Mansion is here today to help Pam with some office arrangements.  He’s so funny – he’s flamboyantly gay. 

5.  Gayle brought her youngest son, Winston, in today (he’s 18).  He’s a really cool kid.  He’s going to Memphis State University next month to play first string football.  He’s definitely NFL-bound.  It was cool to finally meet him.

6.  Grady was relatively painless yesterday.  I got there at 2:50 p.m., and was out the door by 2:40 p.m. The bus ride back was hell on wheels, though.  Screaming kids, everyone seemed to be popping their gum (my biggest, most frequent MARTA pet peeve!!), and just all around chaos and noise.

7.  It seems to have cooled off lately.  It was fairly overcast last night, though humid, so I even made it outside to walk for an hour or so.  It was nice.

8.  I overheard a conversation at yard call last night.  Seems as though Moo has finally burned bridges with Nicky, who is supposedly her best friend.  LA and I saw it coming.  Moo has been very different since she’s started working, and frankly, I think everyone is tired of her.  She doesn’t speak to anyone with respect anymore.  The whole world is supposed to revolve around her I guess.

9.  I got a bill from Emory Medical, the clinic at Grady where I had all the breast work done in May.  The bill was for $193.  I was confused (and freaked out!) because I thought my medical services were free due to my income/situation.  Missy said she got one for over $1,000 for her biopsy and what not.  Turns out that we just have to photocopy our Grady info saying we pay 0% and it should be taken care of.  $193 is way cheap for what I had done, but not when I’m making $6.50/hour and incarcerated!!

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Monday, July 10, 2006

 

1.  Yesterday was the 2-year anniversary of Pop’s passing.  It kind of got to me when I realized it.  It’s just not something I gave much thought to, I guess as a defense mechanism.  But I’d been having dreams all week, so I guess my subconscious wasn’t going to let me off that easy.

2.  It was one hell of a weekend.  Crazy.  Lots of drama.  I didn’t get near as much sleep as I would’ve liked.

3.  Friday night was the craziest.  Ms. Ellis, the officer that Moo has been intimately involved with, got into an altercation with another officer.  5 officers, to include the LT, had to hold Ellis off of Ms. Leggit (no one likes her).  Ellis was screaming and cussing at her that she’ll beat her ass, blah blah blah, and that afterwards she’d go down to Dekalb County Jail and book herself in.  Yes, Ellis IS that crazy and erratic.  After that, we were stuck in our rooms all night.  LT and Ms. Campbell (the superintendent) were at the Center until midnight.  Saturday, LT and Ms. Campbell were up there again.  They gave her an ultimatum:  if she didn’t resign, she would be fired.  So she resigned.  To here Moo tell it, they got into a small argument.  And she keeps defending Ellis, reminding us she resigned.  Riiiight.

4.  The whole incident gave me serious headaches in trying to get my medication.  I got into a slight argument with Mr. Zimmerman because he tried to tell me I may not get my medication that night.  I had to remind him that by law I MUST get my medication.  I wouldn’t have made such an issue but it was my Nexium for nighttime, and my acid reflux has been horrible lately.  Such drama.

5.  It’s a shame all that mess happened, because Friday was the first all-around great day I’d had in a long, long time.  It just seemed like everything fell in to place (well, as best they can under the circumstances).  News of going home on pass certainly helped!! 

6.  Unfortunately, we got news that Moo is indeed on days this week, and probably will be permanently.  Neither of us are amused by this at all.  This means she’ll be home when we’re home.  And I have to deal with her very first thing in the morning.  Of course she’s been a bit pissy lately, too, over Ellis.

 

7.  I got severely cheated out of my sleep Saturday.  I had to get up at 6 a.m. to do my detail, which is cleaning the Lounge (every Saturday in July).  And it was our room’s day to do showers, but LA was at work and Moo didn’t get in from work until 1 a.m. so she got to sleep through details.  That meant I cleaned the entire bathroom by myself (3 showers, 3 sinks, 3 toilets, nasty floors).  It’s not hard work, just frustrating at 6 a.m.  I finally got back to sleep around 8:30 a.m.  Then at 9:15, Sgt. Fowler was on the intercom instructing all A & B building residents (the working residents) to report out to the yard immediately or we would receive an infraction.  See, we are allowed to sleep until 11:30 a.m. on Saturdays.  We thought maybe there was a problem in the building or something, so people went out in their shower shoes, left their beds unmade (a HUGE no-no), etc.  Come to find out, they had us doing yard work.  Yeah, no notice, no nothing.  I hadn’t eaten or taken my BP meds yet.  I was not amused.  We were out there until 11:30 a.m. count.  I ended up doing the bathroom by myself again that night because LA was put on restriction (her whole bus was) and couldn’t leave the room period.  And Moo went off with maintenance to gossip.

8.  The plus side of Saturday is that Moo went on pass, so after I did yardwork, I had the room to myself for a few hours.  And “Swingers” (one of my most favorite movies) and “Set it Off” was on.

9.  LA has gotten word from the parole board that she should be released by August 1 or the week of.  I am so happy for her.  But the inmate in me is terrified of her leaving me there.  We keep each other sane (from Moo and in general).  I hate to lose that, AND I have to sweat a new roommate.  I HATE getting new roommates!

10.  Sunday was okay.  The best part was Moo had to work, so she left around 8 a.m. and didn’t return until around 8 p.m.  LA and I hung out with Tenli in the Lounge (we never hang out there but it was quiet in there).  I went to visitation from 11 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. or so, and helped Ms. West with the Library.

11.  Visitation was very… well, it was good.  But I was a bit emotional.  I guess it hit me about Pop’s passing.  I also talked about my anxiety with my family, about how I feel so disconnected.  I need to do a whole entry on that when I get time.

 

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

 

1.  It is a Foo Fighters kind of day.  I’m needing something a little heavier today!

2.  I am sleepy and a tad cranky.  Adjusting to Moo’s new schedule is not easy.  She’s not been overly inconsiderate, she just isn’t aware all the time.  She wanted to keep LA and I up talking all night. 

3.  I turned in my pass forms to Ms. Calvert last night.  She stopped me when I got in from work and said she got the key from Kelly.  She also said that one of the counselors (she wouldn’t tell me who) highly opposed me going on pass because other residents have asked in the past and been denied.  She said Ms. Elder said she intended to still sign and approve it since Ms. Campbell already approved it, but I guess if the opposing counselor throws too much of a fit, I’m not going to be able to go.  Ms. Calvert said she doesn’t foresee it being a problem, but she had to let me know there was some opposition in case something happens.  This is NOT going to happen like this!  I maintained while I was talking to Ms. Calvert (up front in front of everyone), but yeah, my eyes started to water when I walked away.  I still think I’m going home.  They let LA go home with her lover (to see her kids).  She had opposition, but ultimately, she went home.

4.  Everyone kept asking me last night why I had a visit on Monday since they saw Kelly at the Center when he was dropping of my key.  One of the residents told me Sgt. Channel gave him grief because he had his cell phone on.  So unnecessary.

5.  I had the special torture of LT shaking me down last night when I got in from work.  I had already squat and coughed, and was in the midst of rebuttoning my pants when she said, “Settlemoir, you’re supposed to squat when you squat and cough.”  What?  I’m confused as to what I’ve been doing so far…  So she made me undress again and squat even further to cough.  I don’t know what she was expecting to find, but I sure didn’t produce anything…

6.  I used to drink only water, with the occasional cup of decaf coffee OR a 100% orange juice OR a soda.  Yesterday I had a cup of full strength coffee, a Pibb Xtra AND a V8 Splash, which is high fructose corn syrup.  Not good.

7.  Ms. Thomas, the job coordinator at the Center, stopped me this morning.  She was telling me about a meeting she went to last Thursday, and that people in other agency’s are under the impression that I’m paid well.  Ha!

8.  It seems we’re finally having a 4th of July cookout Thursday (on July 13th!!).  We found a sing hanging in the lounge with a sign-up sheet for “Amateur Night”.  I thought those were at strip clubs on Sunday nights?!

9.  I got a letter from Shon last night.  She seems to be doing okay considering.

10.  We just got breaking news that there is a sniper/shooter out on Bankhead Highway (not my area, but Missy works out there).  Great.

11.  Maggiano’s for lunch tomorrow – woo hoo!!

12.  I have suddenly remembered that I used to use a great shower body butter at home.  I can’t remember what it is, only that I got it at Ulta.  I hope it’s still at home somewhere!

13.  My sister just emailed me – I miss her!

 

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

 

1.  I just had breakfast with Mike.  I can’t believe we only have 6 of these left.  That’s terrific!!

2.  We are sooo looking forward to lunch – Maggiano’s looks terrific!

3.  I looked on Ebay – it seems my dream camera (the Nikon CoolPix 8700 that I used to use at AMTREC) is affordable now!  I figured it would be since it’s no longer the latest and greatest.  They have a complete set that includes a telephoto lens for $350.

7.  Mike just sent me the hotel reservations for our trip to St. Louis.  I can’t believe 2 months from now I’ll be in St. Louis.  I can’t wait.  I’m giddy!

8.  Paul has totally stayed on my mind.  Not sure what to do with that.

9.  Our lunch was fantastic!  We will probably have enough pasta for 3 days this week!  Dessert is coming very soon.

10.  I just got a new keyboard!  It is heavenly!

11.  I forgot to mention the LT’s latest antics.  I swear that she really is being tough on me for whatever reason, but it’s nothing I can report her for or complain about.  She is making shakedown really hard – like making me do everything twice, etc.  I don’t feel like going into all the details.  But since it’s for ‘security reasons’, it’s perfectly okay for her to degrade me.  Nice.

 

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Thursday, July 13, 2006

 

1.  I had to have coffee to jump start my brain this morning. I am sleepy, and I have an earache.

2.  I finally got a break from the LT yesterday.  I was so tired of her, I was actually hoping Sgt. Channel of all people would shake us down!

4.  The Forgotten Hits of the 90s station on Yahoo is da bomb, yo!!

5.  I am so thankful to have such an assortment of people - family and friends - in my life.  I learn something from each and every person every single day.  I don’t know of too many people who have the influences that I have.  I have to remember every day that I am in the Center that I won’t always be surrounded by such mayhem, negativity and chaos.  In the real world, I’ll be surrounded by positive influences.

6.  Missy and I got to talk on the bus on the way home last night. She helped in turning me around as far at the LT is concerned.  I used to let stuff roll, and knew how to be the bigger person.  I need to get back to that.  No more letting her get to me. It’s a control thing, and she can have it.  From now on, I’m just going to smile and tell her to have a nice day (sincerely).  If memory serves, that stuff bothers her more than the resident who gets upset and huffy.  It’s been working with Ms. Bowman, so hopefully it’ll work on the LT, too.

7.  Speaking of Ms. Bowman, another officer I am kind of cool with was sharing some info with us.  She said that Ms. Bowman went over to the prison for whatever reason, and while she was over there, she ‘showed her ass’ (in prison speak, that means she went off on someone, probably for no reason).  The new Warden was not pleased with this, called the LT and told her to write Ms. Bowman up.  Well, for whatever reason, the LT is scared of Ms. Bowman (maybe she’s got something on her?) and the LT snuck the write-up into Bowman’s file so as to not start any reprimanding.  However, the Warden followed up with it and had her file pulled – and now he is investigating why Bowman is still employed because there are so many write-ups in her file and no action whatsoever has been taken.  My guess is that it isn’t so much that Bowman has something on the LT, but that they Center has been so short-staffed due to the good officers leaving and others being fired that she can’t up and fire Bowman.  Regardless, it’s about time someone’s taking a look at what’s going on around there.

8.  Also, Moo came clean about why she got moved to 1st shift.  She said Ms. Thomas called her down to her office Monday to discuss her new hours.  Ms. Thomas will always inquire shift/hour changes to make sure no one is scamming her (so that you can meet up with people, deviate, etc.).  Turns out Moo’s supervisor for that shift said she was moved because she needs to be watched.  Apparently she disappears and can’t be found for hours at a time, and she still is constantly on the phone when she can be found.  Moo, of course denies this, but she isn’t a good liar, because she’s told me of a number of occasions where she’s gone out to the parking lot (highly illegal) to meet up with friends, etc.  I’d say she’s probably skating on some very thin ice.

9.  She’s not been too bad lately.  She has been decently considerate of LA and I (as best as Moo can).  I think what’s hard for us is Moo absolutely cannot stand quiet/silence, so when she’s in the room, she feels we’ve got to be talking all the time. LA and I are the opposite.  We can go hours (and full days) without talking.  So we’re not used to the pressure of entertaining all night.

14.  Today has turned out to be an all around great day.  I am at peace, really.  It’s been a long time since I’ve been in this place.  I’m trying to change my attitude about everything.  I’ve been doing good, but I’ve reached a point where it’s harder and harder to do because I am so tired and worn down from this journey.  I know a lot of it is adaptation to my environment, and that needs to stop immediately.  Going home is surely going to help.

15.  Thank you guys for your comments lately.  They’ve really perked me up and helped me to keep my attitude and thoughts in check.  You guys have been so great! 

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 Friday, July 14, 2006

 

How Gayle and I wasted the last 20 minutes of our day (and you will too)...

Click the link and put your parking skills to the test.

http://www.107.peugeot.co.uk/peugeot.swf

 

1.  I have a feeling its going to be a pretty good day.  My day started off right by not having to deal with Moo (she was still in the bed illegally when I left), my bus ran about 15 minutes early, my eggs weren’t too runny, we’re having Jason’s Deli delivered for lunch, and it just seems to be starting off right all together. 

2.  My counselor called me in last night and said that at least for this week, my pass has been signed off on and approved, so I’m going home tomorrow!  She said we’ll just have to take it week by week because Ms. Campbell has been inconsistent lately (no kidding!) and just because it’s approved this week or for four weeks or whatever doesn’t mean it will continue, so just make sure I enjoy it.  Ms. Calvert isn’t a pessimist, she’s just a realist and she’s right.  She said that Ms. Elder might have a problem with bringing stuff in (my personals, etc.), but it should be fine.

3.  When I was leaving this morning, Ms. Reynolds (the one always asking for a job at the Governor’s Office) and Ms. Bowman (the nasty one who’s in bad situations with the Warden these days) were up in the CO booth.  Ms. Reynolds, being extremely nosey, said, “Settlemoir, I saw a note logged and that you have a key in the lockbox now.  What’s it for?”  As if it is ANY of her business.  I said, “My apartment.”  She said, “Oh, are you going home?”  I said, “Yes, August 31”.  She asked why I have a key so soon.  I told her it was my apartment before I was incarcerated, and I have been approved to start going on pass.  Ms. Bowman said, “Don’t be havin’ the Governor up in you apartment, now.”  She was smiling and trying to be funny.  I just said, “Not unless he brings lunch…” and walked away.

4.  Great song lyrics to describe my stay in prison these days:  Spending my time, Watching the days go by.  Feeling so small, I stare at the wall, Hoping that you think of me too. I’m spending my time.  (Roxette)

5.  Moo was almost unbearable last night.  She’s just so… she wants to argue about anything anymore.  If one of us were to say the sky is blue, she’d most certainly argue that the sky is red or purple just for the sake of argument.  She knows everything about everything and everyone.  LA and I were pretty quiet last night.  BUT, the good news is she works on Sundays now, so we get Sundays in our room without her!  This makes my weekends fantastic!!

6.  A girl that used to hit on me all the time up at Alto arrived at the Center last week.  I’d forgotten all about her.  I saw her last night when I went down to C building to see Ms. Calvert.  She scared the heck out of me screaming my name across the lobby of C building.  I was not happy to see her.

7.  The office is relaxed and even a little krunk (tee hee) since no one is here – the Governor and Chief of Staff are out, so I guess the kids will play.  Except Gayle and I.  We always have to work!

8.  Gayle and I were just talking about prison life, parole, the usual.  Her sister works for Parole and Pardons, and while she is real careful about crossing any lines, she gives me little tidbits of info.  She said that the 5 people on the Parole Board, you know, the one’s who vote on whether or not to let us go home on Parole or make us serve all our time, are people who have retired from other areas of Government, and that they are usually just in it for the title (“posturing”).  How disappointing is that?  So you could have someone who was once the Commissioner of Insurance who knows nothing about criminal justice deciding the future of inmates.  I guess that explains how an inmate who’s been back 3 or 4 times and is likely to be a recidivist ends up doing 6 months of a 7 year sentence when someone like me who has no record whatsoever and is not likely to be a repeat offender ends up doing every single day of a sentence.  This is crazy.  Also, I do believe that they keep doing things ‘just because that’s how it’s always been done’.  All of this just motivates me in my future career.

9.  Did I mention 24 hours from now I will be lounging on my sofa?

11.  I just enjoyed a tasty lunch from Jason’s Deli.  I have half a Tuna Melt sandwich left to eat before I get to the Center.  No nasty prison dinner for this girl tonight!

 

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Saturday, July 15, 2006

 

Oh my God.  It has been the most fantastic day I’ve had in a year and a half.  I knew coming home would be amazing and wonderful, I just didn’t realize it would be like this.  I don’t even know how to describe how amazing it’s been.  Overwhelming – that seems to be the word I’ve used the most.

 

Everything I had hoped for happened and then some – I talked to my mom on the phone for about 2.5 hours.  I had pizza for lunch, though I think my excitement has affected my appetite because I’m not hungry.  Stuart and Missy have not left my side since I’ve been here.  I laid on my bed just to remember what a regular bed felt like, and it was heavenly.

 

I cried, of course.  I got in the door and Kelly and Rae were here.  I saw my house and my babies, and that’s it, I cried.  I cried again when I talked to my mom.  I am not used to the noises and sounds and over-stimulating stuff.  But I like it.  It’s 4:40 p.m. and the people over at MaLi are setting up their patio for dinner, and it’s familiar but so weird.  I tried on some clothes, but much to my dismay, hardly anything fits.  I half expected that.

 

I showered without shoes on for the first time in a year and a half.  It was weird and I loved it.  I am really sad, though, because I have to leave in an hour and a half.  I really don’t want to.  It’s going to take all I have to get on that bus.  My biggest fear is now I’ve had a taste of this, and I just hope and pray that the Center doesn’t take this away from my by stopping any passes.  I think my time will go much better knowing I’ll be here every Saturday.

 

I am so content sitting with my old friend, my outdated laptop, and my two cats beside me, watching a John Hughs film.  How could anyone NOT love this?

 

My heart is warm today, so very warm.  It’s not just about being at home again.  It’s about my reconnecting with people and my life.  I think my talk with mom was something I needed very, very much.  I have a lot to say about that later.  I can’t believe how much has changed in a year and a half.

 

I am loved.  There is no doubt I am loved.  I will never ever take these people for granted.  Ever.

 

This is all I have to say today.  I just wanted to take a moment and say how wonderful this day has been.  I hope there are many of these to come.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

 

1.  It is Mayfield Ice Cream Day at the Capitol.  They have scattered huge over-sized plaster cows on the lawn.  You never know what you’re going to get around here – one day its illegal immigrants, the next its cows.  But, I get ice cream today!

3.  Life at the Center is crazy.  They are putting in new tiling through the lobby so we have to be diverted to go around the entire building anytime we need to leave our hall.  It’s going to make it a very long week.

4.  I just met Scotty Mayfield (of Mayfield Dairy).  Gayle and I have just made two trips out to the Mayfield affair.  They have the four flavors of ice cream that America is voting on.  I was just excited because it’s primary election day, and while I can’t vote in that election, I at least get to vote on something!  I am voting for Extreme Moose Tracks (I am a card-carrying chocolate lover!).  I think Blueberry Cream Pie was worthy of a nod, but like the Green Party, it will receive a few votes but not enough to really do anything.

6.  I am restless today.  My mind is going round and round in circles.

7.  We watched Dateline Sunday night about Lynn Turner, also known as The Black Widow.  It was strange to watch it because I was over at Metro State Prison with her and knew her (I wouldn’t say we were friends).

8.  Gayle just spoke to Ms. Thomas at the Center.  It seems I’ll be trained on customer service and my job duties will be increasing.  They are trying to give me maximum exposure and experience, which is nice.

 

1.  Great breakfast with Mike this morning, and great Bugaboo Creek lunch, too : )

2.  I got my picture of the Governor and I today (see previous entry).  I guess its okay – not my most glamorous moment!!  Dawn was right – he looks like a cutout figure!

3.  I received a few emails from women on the Prison Talk website – one was congratulating me on the firefighter program when I was at Alto, and the other one was a post a mother made about her daughter being transferred to Lee Arrendale and asking for advice.  It felt really good to be able to help someone.

4.  Gayle called Ms. Thomas at the Center yesterday and spoke to her about my using the phones.  She said Ms. Thomas’s breath caught when she asked about the phone policy.  Ms. Thomas is so used to getting phone calls from employers reporting that someone has been using the phone for personal use (highly illegal), but Gayle quickly told her that wasn’t an issue.  I’ve been approved to start training on the customer service side, so this ought to be interesting!

7.  This has been a really strange day.  I don’t know… in a good way, just strange.

8.  I went to my first Goal Setting group last night (we’re required to go to one group a quarter).  I’ve been spoiled because I haven’t had to go to one since World of Work ended back in April.  It’s not so much that I don’t like groups, it’s that they are all Christian/Bible-based.  To include the one I’m going to.  Needless to say, I don’t talk much, I just endure it.

9.  I am really getting aggravated with life at the Center.  I have been unable to get my mail for the last two days, and I know I have mail.  The first night the floors were being done so they didn’t do an official mail call, and last night I had group and Ms. White refused to go through the mail to find mine.  Grrrrr!

10.  It’s okay, though, because it’s almost over.  And, Ms. Calvert hasn’t said anything to me, so that means no one has opposed my pass so far!  Yay!

 

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

 

1.  Today has gone from crazy to crazier!  In a good way, though.  Mostly.

2.  We had a staff meeting today – all of the Office of the Governor folks with the Chief of Staff.  Some of the Senators were here for the meeting as well.  It was mostly about the election, now that it’s campaign season.  We, Constituent Services, are the front line, so there’s a lot of pressure.  Anyway, I ended up having to speak, very impromptu, in front of EVERYONE.  This is something I used to be great at, but I’m definitely out of practice.  I think I did okay, though.  It was very intimidating considering the company.

3.  I find it almost comical that the day after I am informed and OK’d to start training on the phones that we are warned that the crazies/media are out, and a good portion of our conversation to constituents will be recorded without our knowledge.  This is scary because it’s legal and should we mess up and say something stupid, people won’t hesitate to set traps and give it to the media or find other ways to use it against the Governor, since we are more or less his voice and a reflection of his opinions, etc.  No, this absolutely does not scare me at all.  Right!

6.  In good news, the paralegal from the Southern Center for Human Rights contacted me about the email I sent regarding the incident with Shon and the officer at Fulton County.  She asked for Shon’s information so she can go visit her and get the details.  That’s amazing!  It may not turn into anything, but it’s a small victory for us just to know someone cares and is paying attention.  I just emailed her with Shon’s name and booking number.

7.  Wow!  I got an almost-instant email back from the paralegal/investigator – she is going to see Shon right now!  She said she’d let me know what she finds out.

8.  The people from the Capitol in Alabama were visiting today.  I met the woman who was behind inspiring Kay to have an ‘inmate program’.  Hence the way I ended up here : )

 

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Friday, July 21, 2006

 

1.  Time sure seems to be passing faster now that I am going home on the weekends!  I can’t believe it’s Friday already.

2.  I got to catch up with Bri for a minute today.  That’s been nice.

3.  Yesterday was an all around great day for the most part.

4.  My only hitch was at mail call.  I actually ended up getting what was a lot of mail for me.  I got a Positive Thinking magazine, a M&F bill, two postcards and a letter with pictures from Dawn and a bill and nasty note from Ms. Coleman, the business manager at the Center.  I can’t STAND that woman!  She’s the one that wanted to write me the DR that time when she asked for something with my legal signature on it and I snapped back with “would you like my driver’s license or a credit card?”  Anyway, she put a real nasty note in response to a question I asked her.  I’m going to see Ms. Calvert about it.

5.  I have to admit I am disappointed in Justin Timberlake’s new song.  I have been a closet fan for awhile, but I don’t like the new one (SexyBack).  On the other hand, I’ve never been much of a Christina Aguillera fan, but I love her new song (Ain’t No Other Man).

6.  Gayle and I just took a non-smoke smoke break and walked around the Capitol.  It was great, and even though it was hot, it was comfortable.

7.  I have 40 days!!

 

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Monday, July 24, 2006

1.  Going home this weekend was great.  Taco Mac for lunch – lots of wings, queso dip and French fries.  I just chilled out and tried to get used to being in my home.  It’s getting better, but for whatever reason, my anxiety is at an all-time high when I’m home, especially when it gets close to time to leave.

2.  Kelly and I also deviated down the street to catch the bus, and stopped in the Italian shop for Gelato.

3.  I hope the rest of the weeks go as quick as last week did.

4.  Had a staff meeting this morning.  They are long and boring, but they make the day pass faster for some reason.

5.  Missy should be going home verrry soon.  The parole board has called her father to verify that’s where she’s paroling.  They have sent the paperwork to the county he lives in, and they have 10 days to go to the house to verify everything (they told him they would be there today!), and get the paperwork back to the parole board.  At that time, the PB will set her release date.  It’s likely she’ll be gone in 2 weeks, 3 at the very most.  This is great news!!

6.  I had a bit of a showdown with Moo Friday evening.  I was sooo irate.  She basically left the windows and blinds to our room open all day while we were all at work, and I came home to a room that was 93 degrees!  Unbelievable.  When I said something about it, she said we needed ‘fresh’ air circulating in the room.  Um, when it’s 97 degrees with 89% humidity, you aren’t going to get fresh air!  LA and I were pissed!  It was sooo hot.  Our room does not even get below 81 degrees at night anymore.  She had the nerve to ask, “what’s the difference between 81 degrees and 97 degrees?  It’s hot either way!”  The girl did NOT major in science.

7.  Much to our delight, Moo ended up working yesterday, so LA and I had the room to ourselves again.  We spent the entire day in bed.  That is no exaggeration.  We got up for coffee, and she went to smoke break at 8:30 a.m., but back to bed until about 4 p.m.  We went to dinner together and that’s about it.  It was a great day.  There were good movies on TBS to keep me entertained.  I need it.  It seems going on pass on Saturdays completely wears me out.

8.  I have my travel schedule worked out nicely on pass.  I found out I have time to scurry a block and a half down the street to get McDonald’s for breakfast.  This means Rae and Kelly don’t have to show up first thing to get me some food.

9.  Funny conversation with Shon (sort of): 

 

Shon:  So, are you getting big? 

Me:  Well, I’m getting ‘thick’.  That’s what everyone says, anyway.

Shon:  Um, Andi?  You were thick when I last saw you…

 

I really think going home on the weekends is making all the difference in the world.  First of all, it remains a grand reminder that the next 37 days (and a wake-up) are peanuts.  I can do this!  None of this BS I tolerate during the week is even going to matter 37 days from now. 

 

I am still having some anxiety, but I guess it’s to be expected.  I think I am so used to being around people, it’s hard for me to adjust being alone.  I mean, I get plenty of time to myself in the room, but I am used to the constant noise from the hallway and the blaring intercom.  And also, at the Center I am used to being on alert and tensed and ready to jump up and react all the time, even in my sleep.  It’s hard getting used to letting that go at home.  I imagine it will be like that until I am at home for good for awhile.

 

Paul showed up shortly after, then JP showed up just after Paul.  I wasn’t sure how I’d be with visitors, but I think it worked out better that their visits were unplanned.  Paul and Kelly walked over to San Francisco coffee to get coffee.  Kelly tried the cordless phone, but it didn’t quite reach.  Darn.  I did discover I will be able to sit on the patio at Ma Li and have dinner, though, with no problem.

 

It was so great hanging out with these guys.  These are three of my best friends in the world, and it is the first time I’ve ever hung out with all of them at the same time.  It really gives me something to look forward to – I mean, all of my local friends (except Mike and Dawn and Shon) are a group now.  I’ve never had a group like this.   They kept me laughing from the time they arrived until the time they left.  I was exhausted!

 

The boys returned with food, and we all sat around the living room eating.  It was so good!  50 wings between us went quick!  We talked mostly about all that had been going on and all our future plans when I return.  It was a relief to be thinking and talking about something other than prison!  Rae left her badass new Mac laptop, and that pretty much entertained us for the rest of the afternoon.  Rae has the build in camera in hers, and it has a program where you can change and distort the pictures.  It is amazing and hilarious.  I’ll get some of the pictures to post here later.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

 

It is hard to explain the emotional wear and tear that prison life will put you through.  There has been one thing that has been harder for me to cope with than anything else in the system:  roommate changes.  I know I’ve mentioned before that I can’t stand sweating new roommates.  And what’s even harder is losing a good roommate.

 

It was inevitable, and I knew LA’s time was coming close.  August was her month and she stayed on top of the Parole Board, so we knew she’d get her date any time now.  Well, last night she came home with the news.  Actually, I heard it from our friend Robin first.  LA said I was the first person she thought of when she got the news at 5 p.m. last night.  She wanted me to be the first to know, but that was unfeasible.  I understood.

 

August 3.  She goes home August 3.  I am so happy for her, because she’s long overdue (she got an extension about 10 months ago and ended up serving almost 3 years).  She’s ready to go home.  But man, I can’t imagine not having her in my life everyday.  She and I have become unbelievably close friends.  I have never enjoyed another roommate as much as I’ve enjoyed her.  I learn so much from her.  Her leaving next Thursday will be like losing a limb. Okay, that’s dramatic, but I am going to have some serious separation anxiety.

 

Then of course, selfishly speaking, I will have to sweat a new roommate again.  I know, I only have 27 days and a wake up at that point, but still, a roommate at this place will make or break your time.  Remember, our whole room will get in trouble for one person’s actions.  If that roommate leaves something out on her bed, we all get written up.  We were surveying the people back in B building, since that’s where our next roommate will come from.  It’s depressing.  Moo and I don’t know anyone back there anymore, and they are all ‘off the chain’ ghetto folk.  Loud, obnoxious, inconsiderate.  We’re hoping for the best.

 

But I digress.  I’ve been living with LA (and Moo) for nearly 6 months now.  That is a very long time in the system, and the longest by far I’ve ever had the same roommate(s).  I think the next longest I’ve had the same roommate was Robin at Fulton County, and that was for 6 weeks.  LA and I weren’t just roommates who tolerated each other (that’s us with Moo).  We’re really good friends, and I have no doubt we’ll continue to be close friends beyond the system. 

 

The thing about LA is, even if it were in reverse, I would feel a deep sense of loss.  If it were me leaving, I would still feel the sadness of losing that closeness.  I look forward to her coming home from work every single day.  I look forward to sharing our Sundays together while Moo is at work.  We get up for coffee and her smoke break, then head back to bed.  We share loads of laundry, eat Sunday dinners together, and share books.  We talk until its way late and regret it the next morning.  We share conversations with each other that we can’t have with anyone else.  I am going to miss us referring to Moo as “your roommate” (i.e.  she’ll ask me, “when is your roommate getting home?”  I can honestly say in the 6 months of having lived with her, I cannot think of a single instance where she has gotten on my nerves.  She is that darn considerate.  I just can’t imagine what it’s going to be like to have this huge void in my life all of a sudden.

 

It is this type of emotional wear and tear that makes prison life very hard.  It’s hard to experience the same effect in the free world, because we’re typically not put in situations where you’re forced to endure this type of sudden change or having to adapt to persons on a constant basis.

 

I’m so happy for her.  I expect Thursday to be a very emotional day for me.

 

She and I stayed up talking last night.  She’s so happy and ready to go home, but her anxiety is finally hitting her.  She’s been so wrapped up in Robert (her boyfriend/Billy Bob from the Center next door) that I think she’s gotten sidetracked.  And now it’s hitting her that life is about to change.  Her environment isn’t terrible by any means, but hers isn’t anywhere near as stable as mine.  I am still 36 days out, but even I feel the pressure of returning to the real world.  I guess it’s hard to explain if you haven’t been there.

 

1.  It has been a weird day from the start.  We were supposed to attend a webcast, but we had power issues and I missed Commissioner Donald speaking (I am not amused).

2.  I did not sleep well at all last night.  None of us did (out of the three of us).  I tossed and turned all night.  LA got up at midnight to go to the bathroom which is unusual for her, and then we were all awake again. Moo got up at 1:58 a.m. and thought it was 7:58 a.m.  In her sleepy stupor, she thought she was late for work and rushed to get ready.  She got up to the CO booth to sign and realized it was just after 2 a.m.  Then LA, who has to get up at 4 a.m. to get ready for work, overslept by a long shot.  She didn’t wake up until 5:05 a.m. when her bus was already there, and that was because someone came in to see if she was going to work.  It was a long night for all of us.  I am exhausted.

4. I am frustrated today – our internet is running really slow.  ALL of my work is done via internet, and its truly hindering my production.

5.  Teri and I have gone through an interesting phase of misunderstanding.  I think this is the first time in our 5 years of knowing each other.  It has helped us to understand each other and our lives together.

6.  I am definitely feeling tired.  I can hardly keep my eyes open today.  I can’t wait to get a nap.

7.  I am making a list of movies I missed over the last year and a half.  I’ve got a lot of movies to watch!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

 

1.  It is freezing in our office today.  I am literally chattering.  Our air is working correctly now, and I’m not used to having A/C since ours doesn’t work in our room at the Center.

2.  I went to the Center and crashed last night.  I slept for about an hour, got up and socialized with Missy, Lowe and Evelyn, then back to the room.  I was dead tired.

3.  We narrowly escaped yet another staff meeting this morning.  I am relieved – I am not in the mood.

5.  They just found Andrea Yates, the one who drowned her 5 children, not guilty by reason of insanity.  I am a little surprised.

6.  It’s like the twilight zone at work today.  It’s just very, very strange.

7.  I’ve decided to play some Foo Fighters to try and calm my nerves.

8.  Breakfast with Mike and PF Chang’s tomorrow!!

9. We had a BBQ lunch sponsored by Georgia State University.  It was Lowcountry BBQ which I love, but they were kind of skimpy with the pulled pork. Who am I to complain over a free world lunch?!

11.  Prison Break starts again on August 21 – I miss Wentworth Miller!  I only have to watch 2 episodes before I go home.

Friday, July 28, 2006

 

1.  I am very tired today.  Yesterday was an emotionally charged day (mostly in a good way), and LA and I stayed up talking later than we needed to.  However, there is a little more pep in my step today.

2.  We just had a staff meeting.  I don’t have much involvement though I have to attend all of them (3-5 a week).  I love to people watch and listen, though, because it still amazes me that I am sitting amongst the most powerful people in the state of Georgia.  These people run the state.  This is crazy.  Not to mention scary, because some of these people are not all there.  I also noticed today that the number of women in this administration far outweigh the men.  In today’s staff meeting alone, there were 25 women and 9 men.  Granted everyone wasn’t present, but it’s a pretty clear representation.  And I also realized it’s not just because we are support staff – many are senior staff, etc.  Pretty impressive.

4.  I have lost count how many times I have vented her about Oliver, the store keeper out in the hall that whistles all day long.  It is really getting to my nerves today.  I mean, just grating.

5.  Pat collected my picture with the Governor so that he can sign it and put a personal greeting on it.  I hope I get it back today : )

6.  I was just talking to Gayle about the next resident who will take my place when I leave the Center.  She and Kay have agreed that I need to be in on the interview process because they are wanting someone who sees this as more than just a job.  I told them (and NOT in a bragging way) that I doubt they will find someone anywhere near as involved as I am, because I don’t think too many people come through the Center with a sincere interest in politics.  I am curious as to how the interviewing will go.  It scares me.  Whoever it is will have to have business clothes to wear to work.  I just don’t know what’s going to happen.  But we have a month to figure it out.

7.  I totally missed ‘So you think you can dance’ last night for the first time.

8.  I have been paying extremely close attention to haircuts and styles here at the Capitol (it is my only exposure to appropriate hairstyles!).  That’s what I did through most of the meeting this morning.  I’m ready to have a complete makeover done.  Yesterday as I left the Capitol, I had my hair pulled up in a low ponytail.  I felt like that girl in those geeky teen movies – the plain-Jane geeky girl a guy is dared to ask to prom.  That is me right now – very nondescript, plain and a wallflower, though not by choice.  It’s purely circumstantial.  

9.  Sometimes it worries me that Gayle and I seem to have it more together than the Legislative Aides do.  And really, we just deal with incoming mail!

10.  33 days and a wake up, folks.  I am so close to the coveted ‘under 30’ mark.  By Tuesday, I’ll be saying, “I’m going home this month!”

I can't imagine having done this without Kelly.  We’ve been through so much together, and he has truly done my prison sentence with me.  I emailed him Tuesday kind of giving him an honest rundown of what I was going through.  His reply kind of surprised me, because I didn’t know he had it in him to hit me with such an impacting message.  I cut out the following email and I carry it with me everywhere I go:

 

LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT, RIGHT…..Head down, up the hill. The peak is right in front of you. If you fall down now, it’s a long way down and it’ll hurt like H**L. I’ll keep pushing the water and the trail mix, but ultimately you know you’re the only one that can climb your mountain. I know you can do it and you have an army of supporters who know it too…. However, I promise I’ll put Ghirardelli chocolate pieces in your trail mix to make it a little better… : )

 

Keep remembering….You’re out in 30 days and a wake up. You are coming HOME to YOUR house, YOUR car, YOUR cats, YOUR life…YOU have much more than whatever is happening to you in there. REGARDLESS what it is. Your life out here did not stop---it only paused. You are ‘Girl, interrupted’…NOT stopped.

 

I know you have to live in and deal with the drama of the center everyday, but that’s not your drama and it ends, DEAD, the day you walk out of those front doors on August 31st, 2006. From that day forward you are back in your world, on your terms, making your way. We are all just visitors on your world and you decide how we fit in. That’s how you, RIGHTFULLY, did it before you went in and that’s the way you do it when you get out. Those YOU CHOOSE to stay in contact with once you are out, have to live by those same guidelines. We are very happy where we are in your world. We don’t try to change you or manipulate you or ______________ (insert your choice of word here)…we just love you.

 

You have 30 days and a wake up! And when you do “wake up”, I will be there to take you away…Put your guard up, be selfish, get above the drama, it’s not yours. Don’t stress about coming home, dream about it. NOW, more than ever, this is ANDI’S WORLD—We’re all just visiting……That includes THE CENTER and everyone, I mean EVERYONE, in it.

 

You know I mean these things and I mean the best by them. I learned them from the best person I know….Love you.

 

I shared this email with LA and Missy, and agreed that he is one amazing human being.  He certainly set me straight and turned me around.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

 

1.  I can officially say I am going home THIS MONTH!!!

2.  Life has been moving along at a VERY fast, chaotic pace since the end of last week.  I’ve got so much going on, I don’t even know which way is up.

3.  We’ve been on lockdown at the Center since late last week.  The air in C building went out Friday, and they moved all 120 girls up to our building.  It looked like a Red Cross refugee camp because there were bodies everywhere.  It was so miserable – our tiny room that barely fits 3 had a 4th body on the floor.  AND our room still doesn’t have air, so it stayed 85 degrees in there all night.  We were confined to our rooms except to shower and eat breakfast and dinner.  This just ended last night (Monday).

4.  Due to this situation and some other things I was going to, I hit a very rough patch Saturday night and Sunday.  It seems to be passing, but man.  It was rough.

5.  Things in our room got crazy this week.  Moo was way out of hand Sunday night.  No, none of us wanted a 4th body in our already hot room, but she came home from work and took it out on us (mostly me).  I snapped at her (and cussed her, too).  I’d had enough with her white girl jokes (she acted mad that the body on the floor was also white), and she was being very rude to me.  Last night, there was a pretty big blow up.  I’ll have to explain later when I have the energy.

6.  Also, I am going to consult Ms. Calvert about a possible grievance against Ms. Bowman, the one who said a long time ago, “I don’t know how an inmate like you got a job at the Governor’s Office.”  Yeah, well, I think she overstepped a boundary yesterday.  LA and I were walking down the hall, and she gave us orders which were very unclear, and I was trying to speak (addressing her properly with ‘permission to speak’, etc.,) to clarify what it is she wanted us to do.  As we carried on and continued down the hall, she said, “What, are you retarded?”  I was very calm, but my instinct was to turn around and say, “Excuse me?”  But I just looked at LA dumbfounded and asked if she just said what I thought she said.  Not sure if it’s grievable, but I am tired of being treated like that.

7.  I got on the train as usual yesterday, and I always stand by the door since I go one stop.  There happened to be a big jolly group of people right by where I was standing.  One gentleman offered me his seat but I declined.  Then he noticed I work for the Governor, and said he wanted me to tell the Governor that the MARTA trains and busses need better air conditioning.  I was trying to explain to him that he would need to write a letter, etc., but someone else popped up with an issue, and then someone else, and then… well the whole train got going?  It was hilarious, and everyone was laughing and having a good ‘ole time.  It made me smile for a long time.

8.  We had back to back staff meetings yesterday (senior staff and our department).  We found out that one of the Legislative Aides upstairs is leaving (still in our department, just up in the Governor’s actual office) next week.  I am considering asking Kay if I’m anywhere near qualified.

10.  I saw on MARTA tv today that “Running with Scissors”, one of my most favorite books ever, is coming out in movie form in September.  I am so ready to see this – I am impressed by the cast, but a little surprised.  I am so excited to see Gwenyth Paltrow in it!!

 

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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

 

1.  Things have been so crazy this week!  I hope it keeps time flying by.

2.  Things with Moo are finally better.  I think our little blow up the other night was a way to get the resentment out of the way, and was like hitting the reset button.  Not to say we’re back on the honeymoon, but at least I mostly enjoy her company again.

3.  LA leaves tomorrow.  Major separation anxiety going on right now, for real.

4.  Ruby Tuesday’s was GREAT today.  Mike is too good to us.

5.  Missy has been my saving grace this week, helping me through some stuff.  I am so grateful for her.

 

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Thursday, August 03, 2006

 

1.  I’ve been a total slacker on blog posting this week.  It’s just been so darn busy.  And I’ve been greatly distracted.

2.  I had a dog in my room at the Center last night.  Ms. Peterson had been at the vet with Peaches, her poodle, and was late for work.  She brought the dog with her, and her husband later picked the dog up.  She snuck Peaches down to my room and asked if I could watch her for awhile.  I’m thinking like 20 minutes, but it was more like 3 hours.  Then Missy, who LOVES animals, took over, then Waller.  It was funny.

3.  A girl got sent back to prison Tuesday because she miscarried.  She knew she was pregnant, and since she’s going home in October, was hiding it until then.  Apparently she miscarried earlier this week, and tried to keep that quiet as well.  Tuesday she went to Grady to have a D&C done, but her job called the Center.  I guess she knew she would get an escape charge if she didn’t call, so she called the Center and confessed.  Just when you think you’ve seen and heard it all…

4.  I am not sure if it’s due to the above incident, but I was not amused to return to the Center last night and find that we have to attend a mandatory House Meeting at 7 p.m. tonight.  I HATE these meetings.  It’s the same depressing, negative and feeds the negative energy in my opinion.

5.  LA left to go home this morning.  I am so happy for her.  I’m going to miss her so much.

6.  I must be hitting that numb stage.  I didn’t cry when I said goodbye to LA this morning.  That is so unlike me.

7.   Mike and I have decided to go see Brooks & Dunn in November.  The bonus is I’ll be seeing Jennifer Nettles as part of Sugarland, too : )

8.  We are getting psyched up for the Rams game.  Mike has new apparel arriving for the big event.

Friday, August 04, 2006

 

1.  The pressure seems to be alleviated some today.  My anxiety was out of control yesterday when I left work!  I guess going numb over the whole week really caught up with me all at once.  I know most of it was because of LA leaving and sweating a new roommate, and the house meeting and just general anxiety.

2.  We got our new roommate last night.  Her name is Stephanie, and she’s a nice, quiet girl.  It TOTALLY made my day, because I don’t have to worry about having someone loud and ghetto and disrespectful.  I knew Moo would be mad when she got in and saw that it was another white girl, and yeah, she was.  I warned Stephanie that Moo is moody, so just ignore her when she gets like that.  I think Saturday is Stephanie’s only day off, so I’ll still have my alone time in the room it seems.  I am so relieved.  Oh, and oddly enough, remember how it only took 3 weeks for me to move from B building to A building?  That NEVER happens – it takes 2-4 months for everybody to move, and I’ve never heard of anyone else having it like that, but the same thing happened to Stephanie.  She wasn’t expecting to move and had been back there just over 3 weeks.  Strange.

3.  The house meeting was okay, just long.  Same old photocopied stuff from the last house meeting back in March.  I wasn’t too bothered by it since it was my last one : )  We are having an audit on August 17, which I am not looking forward to. They will go into crazy mode that week, and we’ll be screamed at and treated like slaves.  But, whatever.  I’m almost done.

4.  We made it back in time to catch ‘So you think you can dance’.  I am sad about losing Ivan : (  He was my little man.

5.  I just got really good news (well, potential news).  Kay was just talking about it being time for me to go soon.  As it is now, Gayle’s surgery is scheduled for September 7, and she’ll be out at least 6 weeks.  We already knew I would likely stay and fill in, though it hadn’t been confirmed yet.  Well, remember I mentioned that Gwen, one of the Legislative Aides, is leaving this week?  I know I can’t qualify for her position permanently, because you have to go through certain levels (it wouldn’t be so bad if she weren’t upstairs in the Governor’s actual office).  BUT, they aren’t looking to hire someone to fill her position since its election year, so Kay is talking to Chief of Staff about me being a fill in, and Gayle being out is likely to boost the chance of this happening (I would be filling in and doing both jobs).  That would be fantastic.  I have no idea about money yet, but one stage at a time.  I have a gut feeling, and always have, that something good is going to work out for me.

6.  Also, Gayle is getting a hold of Misty and Adam, the Commissioner’s assistants, so we can meet with them.  They’ll be a big help.  I hope I still get to meet with the Commissioner, too.

7.  Gayle is too good to me.  She brought me a Southern Style Chicken Biscuit from McDonald’s this morning.  I love her!  We are also ordering Jason’s Deli for lunch.

8.  Ms. Calvert scared me last night.  She was up in the CO booth before the house meeting, and since I haven’t seen her in a month or so, I stopped and said ‘hi’ to her.  She said, with a very serious face, that it’s vital she see me next week.  I said, “is there a problem?”  She’s really good at hiding stuff, so you can’t read her.  She said no, she’s just going to be out for awhile.  I said, “well, you know I go home the 31st, right?”  She said yeah, that’s why we need to get together.  I am so going to miss her.

10.  Gayle set up a meeting with Misty, the Commissioner’s assistant, for next Tuesday.  I’m really excited about this.  For one, it’s making it feel real that I am on the verge of going home.  Second, I just… I don’t know.  I just feel like good things are happening.  Nothing is clear yet, I just feel like I don’t have to worry about anything.  It’s a nice feeling to have.  It’s kind of unusual for me.

12.  I have to admit that while this was a rather rocky week, it went pretty darn quick.  I hope the next 4 continue this way.

13.  Teri has just given me some advice that I seriously needed to hear.  .  I just need to work on how to apply.  I love that woman.  I have learned so much from her.  She knows how to say things to get through to me.  She has said:  I read your email and just wanted you to know that I do understand that feeling of being in over your head.  Time and distance does put our lives in perspective. I've learned to allow life's confusion to Occupy space in my mind for longer periods of time than in my past.  Meaning, that often confusion and overwhelm dissipates on it's own. It's when I try to wrap a solution around things too quickly that I end up suffocating truly valuable life lessons.  let time take a larger role in life's challenges. Slow down your decisions and your solutions.  Just my two cents from lessons I've learned

14.  I feel more centered, more calm, more at ease than I have this week.

Monday, August 07, 2006

 

1.  I am down to 23 days and a wake up.  That is just under 3 weeks.  I have 3 full Monday through Friday weeks left, then I go home that next week.  I know it sounds silly, but that seems soooo long. 

2.  The Center and everything associated has gotten to me regarding the weekend, but I’m not even going to harp on it here.  It is what it is, and I refuse to spread the negative energy.

3.  Kelly did come visit me Sunday for a few hours.  It’s the first time in a long time that I’ve gone to visitation.  Sgt. Channel first made me wait 25 minutes before she shook me down, then switched and got all friendly and kind to me.  She said she knew I didn’t have long left, and she asked when I go home.  Then she asked how my job was going.  I told her it was real good.  She asked if I was going to keep it when I leave, and I told her not this job, but if things go well, I will be a Legislative Aide in September.  She said that was great, and she’s happy for me.  Then she went on to say it proves that if you work hard and focus on the right stuff, then it’ll pay off.  Then she really got me when she said, “I gotta say, Settlemoir, I haven’t heard anything bad about you the entire time you’ve been here.  That’s rare around here.  You’ve obviously done your time well.”  I was shocked.  I think I surprised her, too, because before all this, there was a girl that came out of visitation like 3 minutes before we finally got shook down.  I’d been sitting there all that time, then somehow the girl ended up in front of me and got shook down first.  Sgt. Channel said, “How is it that you’ve been waiting all that time and she got in front of you?”  I said, “Ms. Channel, I don’t even sweat the small stuff.  I don’t have time to worry about that stuff.”  She just stopped and looked at me and smiled, and said, “Wow, you never hear anything like that!  It would be nice if everyone was like that.”  I just smiled – I was thinking it would be nice if SHE was more like that!!

4.  Moo ended up working all day Sunday, and Stephanie, the new roommate, was at work until about 2:30 p.m.  Moo and I were both a little irritated that she turns on the light in the mornings when she gets up at 4 a.m.  To her credit, it is pretty dim in the room, BUT, since I have been in B then A building where we have those little lamps, my roommates nor I have EVER turned on a light when others in the room were sleeping out of courtesy.  LA used to get up at the same time as Stephanie and never once turned on the light – once your eyes adjust, you can see fine.  I wasn’t too bothered yesterday since it was Sunday and I could rest up all day.  But this morning, even I was a little irritated.  Maybe we just need to mention it to her.  She’s real quiet – she reminds me of me every time I have moved to a new room, especially when I got moved to the honor dorm at Alto.

5.  I did have to break down and buff for the very first time in my entire prison career.  It was devastating.  I was hoping to go all the way without buffing, but it is not to be.

6.  I just got Gayle’s son’s new laptop set up for him.  It’s been a long time since I’ve seen an updated laptop, and I’m amazed at how advanced they are.  They come complete with wireless (internal) and built-in webcams now.  I can’t wait to get my Mac!

7.  Today went pretty quick.  It’s 3:15 p.m. already.  I hope they all go like this.

 

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

 

I have been totally falling behind on the ‘ole blog lately.  Work is too busy – it’s always really busy, but Gayle is out the rest of the week, so I am carrying both of our loads.  Nothing I can’t handle, but it’s quite busy.

 

Meeting with Department of Corrections

The meeting with Misty (legislative liaison for Dept. of Corrections) and Ed (executive assistant to the Commissioner) went great.  Not what I expected, though.  I think Kay set it up for my benefit, so that I could get on a more personal level with them.  Misty especially has always had an interest in me.  For one, we’re the same age, we’re very similar in character.  The difference is, she works for the DOC and I am incarcerated.  She even said in the meeting yesterday that she’s had a hard time thinking of me as an inmate because we could’ve been sorority sisters or something.

 

Anyway, they met with Kay and Gayle for awhile, then they called me in, and the meeting resumed with just me, Misty and Ed.  I was really comfortable with Misty because we’ve known each other for awhile, but Ed was a bit of adjustment.  I do not have that personal feel for him like I did Adam, the previous assistant.  He’s not as charismatic.  I guess because he’s been in law enforcement his entire career until now.  But he was alright.  Very helpful.

 

They asked a lot of questions about me, my experience, my work at the Capitol.  They collected 3 copies of my resume to take back over, and both of them are being extremely helpful and supportive in my future career in corrections.  Ed said there are tons of different positions, and they are working with me, both short and long term, to find something that fits me. 

 

Apparently, Kay went in there and wouldn’t stop talking about me.  Misty said, “I remember we sat down and talked to you your first day about how you’re the first one and you have to be an example, but we didn’t know you’d set the bar so high.  What are we going to do when you leave?!”  That made me feel good.  It’s humbling, because I’ve just been me.  It’s great to know that no one even sees me as an inmate, they see and outstanding employee.

 

Ed was very helpful in answering the First Offender questions.  That’s kind of depressing because I do indeed have to claim conviction until I am off paper (roughly 4 years).  This is a very big concept for me to accept and I think it is the root of my anxiety.  I am so scared of leaving here and having to find a suitable job and salary while being a technically convicted felon.  I just cannot wrap my mind around this challenge right now.

 

Also, I asked about my firefighter certification.  I definitely cannot be a professional firefighter until I am off paper.  If I moved to a small town in the suburbs, I could volunteer on a fire department, but not like be one.  As for certification, I might be able to certify still, but unlikely while I’m on paper.  I am not as depressed about this, because it’s one of those facts of life I’ve forced myself to accept.  But yes, I am quite sad about it.

 

I could tell Misty wanted to ask a lot more questions, but didn’t feel comfortable since Ed seems to be a little more formal. But she did ask if I was scared when I came in to the system and such.  She said she can tell a huge difference in me since I started working here.  And, as I’ve heard thousands of times in the past, they both said I should write a book.  I have a gut feeling she and I will remain in contact, and once I reach the real world again, I can see us being friends.  It’s a weird connection, but it’s there.

 

I expressed great appreciation and gratitude for the opportunities that they have afforded me.  I really wish they could understand how much they’ve impacted my life.  I mean, to have been given this opportunity – it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, and even more since I am incarcerated.

 

I may not get to meet with the Commissioner before I leave as we planned, but I will definitely get to meet with Brian Owen, the Assistant Commissioner, for more specific job purposes.  And I do believe down the road I will get to meet with Commissioner Donald to discuss my prison experience.  It just won’t be right away.

 

After the meeting, I met with Kay for a minute. She said she’s working on the proposal for John, the Chief of Staff, about my stay at the Capitol.  She thinks there’s a very big chance I will be allowed to stay on a temporary basis to fill in for Gayle and Gwen.  She said, “It’s not just because we want to help you out, Andrea, it’s because we really need you, too!”  She said that I would still have flexibility to interview and take care of what I need to do.  Nothing in stone, but we are making progress.  Also, I know I will be in on the interview process for the person who takes my place, and I am sure I will train her, too.

 

My Anxiety

This has been a crazy trip.  I have heard about how your last incarcerated days are long, anxiety-ridden and stressful.  I thought I could rise above and escape all that, but I guess this is not the case.  I know I will rise above, but all the stress and anxiety is completely human reaction.

 

It’s weird – one day I’ll be ready to conquer the world, like nothing can stop me.  And the next, I’ll be extremely withdrawn, uncertain and, well, scared.  My appetite comes and goes.  I am eating, but not like I should or I used to.  I eat breakfast every week day.  I only eat lunch on the days Mike brings it to us.  I don’t hardly ever eat dinner anymore.  And what I do eat doesn’t seem to stay with me very long.  This seems to be the case regardless of my frame of mind – even on the days that I am feeling really good about things.  I guess it’s just because it’s all a roller coaster.

 

Meetings like I had yesterday with the DOC are sort of bringing things into perspective.  There is one big irony – I have served nearly a year and a half in prison, yet the reality of me being in prison still hasn’t set in.  On the other hand, the reality of me going back home hasn’t set in, either.  I mean, I remember 7 months ago when I started here at the Capitol, we talked about all these meetings I’d be having at the end of my trip with the DOC and Commissioner and what not.  And now I’m having them!!  How is that possible when I haven’t even accepted that I’m in prison?!  Maybe I’ve just done good to not let myself mentally be in prison.

 

The hardest thing is I have these meetings like the one we had yesterday, and they pick me up so high my feet aren’t touching the ground.  And yet, I have to stay grounded because I can’t even act on this.  I have to sit here and wait patiently for another 21 days.  I know, it’s only 21 days, but it’s hard to sit here and not act on my future.  That is the internal struggle I’m dealing with.

 

I can tell that I’ve withdrawn quite a bit lately.  I am trying to not feel guilty about it.  My communication outside of myself has been minimal.  I don’t want visitors on the weekends right now (it’s too hard to say goodbye and return to the Center), I have a hard time making phone calls to my loved ones again for whatever reason, and I just all around seem to be internalizing everything.  I hate this, because I don’t want anyone to be offended.  I am just relying on everyone around me to be understanding during this adjustment period.

 

1.  I just left a VM for LA.  I haven’t been able to call her yet, and I miss her!  She probably thinks I’ve not called her on purpose.

2.  I just opened a piece of the Governor’s mail from Bass Pro Shops.  Apparently the guy that owns the local shop knows Joyce, the Gov’s secretary.  He attached a personal note the most recent catalog that says “some bathroom reading material for the Governor…”  This disturbs me.  I know it’s a completely human thing, but the thought of the Governor having bathroom reading material…

3.  It’s a full moon.  I don’t normally believe that full moons affect anything, but I might rethink that this week.  The way people are acting, especially here at work, I feel like I am in the twilight zone.

4.  I hate people who invade your personal space on the bus.  This woman plops down next to me this morning, and proceeded to fall asleep on me all the way to the train station (about 40 minutes).  She was doing the head nod thing.  She would doze off, and slump over, but the majority of her weight would be on my arm and side.  She would wake up after about 15 seconds, but go right back to it.  It was an ugly cycle.  It wouldn’t have been AS bad if she didn’t start resting her head on my shoulder every few rounds.  I have sympathy for a tired working woman, but this was a really unbearable.  Being in prison has made me extremely sensitive to human touch, and this is not something I am comfortable with.

5.  I am trying to leave a little early today to meet with Ms. Calvert (my counselor).  It will be my last real meeting with her before I go home since she will be on vacation for the next three weeks.  I hate that she’ll be gone during this time, but I will cope without her.  I just gotta pray the other counselors are competent to process my paperwork and whatever else I need while she’s gone (passes, release, etc.).  They usually are not.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

 

1.  John Mayer’s new song “Waiting on the World to Change” is fantastic.  Groovy, uplifting, smooth.  I love it.

2.  Work is in overload mode with mail being extra heavy and Gayle being out.  But I like it like this.  Miss Gayle, though.

3.  I left early for nothing last night.  I couldn’t even get the officers to let me out of the building to go see Ms. Calvert, which was the entire reason I left early.  So she ended up calling me at 5 p.m., which is the time I normally come in.  Oh, well.  I got to ride the bus in with Missy which made it all worth it.

4.  Last night was the last meeting with Ms. Calvert.  It was bittersweet.  It was hard to say goodbye to her.  I can’t quite explain it.  She admitted she is Buddhist to me (DUH, like I didn’t figure it out, but it was nice of her to confess).  I know I’ll keep in touch with her for sure, as I asked her to be a mentor to me.  I cried a little when I said goodbye.  I couldn’t thank her enough for all she’s done for me.

5.  In not-so-good news, we had all assumed she was going on vacation for 3 weeks and that’s why she’d be out, though I had a feeling it was something else.  She told me in confidence last night that she’s got a serious Fibroid tumor, and has to have an emergency hysterectomy done next week.  Apparently she had to go to the hospital a few weeks ago and have a blood transfusion done. We had no idea that was going on with her.  Anyway, she’s strong and she’s going to be fine, I just hate that she has to go through this.  She said she’s okay with it because she has no attachment to her uterus whatsoever : )

6.  I am on pins and needles over tonight’s “So You Think You Can Dance” finale.  I can’t decide who I want to win because I really like all of them.  I’d say I am tied over wanting it to be Travis or Heidi.  I think Heidi is the best all around dancer, really.

7.  Who are these Jurassic 5 people?  I kind of like the new “Work it Out” song.  I think I’ve heard it somewhere before and thought it was someone else.

8.  Last night, I was hit with something I didn’t expect.  Moo told me that LA has been talking to Ellis (the former officer that Moo has been dating for quite some time) about their relationship.  This does not surprise me – I was under the impression that LA was going to tell the truth about Moo and what she’s been up to.  Me personally, no I don’t think what Moo does to Ellis is right, but frankly, it’s none of my business.  I don’t see the point in getting involved.  I could careless that LA went to Ellis about it – except that she’s brought my name into it.  She told Ellis something like “Ask Settlemoir about it because she’ll know more.”  What?!  How are you going to put me in that position?  It’d be different if it was August 31 and I was gone, but how are you going to involve me when I still live with Moo?!  I am sure no harm was meant on LA’s part, but that’s a serious lapse in judgment.  I don’t know what to do about this.  I haven’t been able to talk to LA yet; I’ve left two voicemails for her.  But I guess I need to talk to her to see what the deal is.  This might be strike two against her.  It really disappoints me, as LA is one of the best friends I made in the last year and a half.  I swear this feels so 3rd grade.

10.  I saw Cathy Cox yesterday (former State Superintendent, current Secretary of State, lost primaries for Governor against Mark Taylor).  In person, she looks exactly what I pictured her to be.  I will say she was kind.

11.  I just held an actual handwritten letter and photograph from Vice President Dick Cheney.  He sent a photograph to the Governor from when they visited troops together.  It’s surreal sometimes to be handling such things – I mean, a personal, handwritten letter from the Vice President?!

12.  I emailed Paul yesterday just to say ‘hi’.  I miss him.  I started to realize just how much I do.  I got the kindest email back – I couldn’t ask for someone to be more understanding.  I think I want to wait and spend time with him in the real world.  I feel like we deserve that time.  Great things are in store for our friendship or whatever else may come.

13.  I am the 20 day mark.  20 days.  I swear the last 10 have felt like weeks and weeks, though.  I hope the next 20 days move right along.  Exactly 3 weeks from right now, Kelly and I’ll be out in the city taking care of business.  Right about now, I’ll probably be either eating breakfast or trying to see my probation officer.  Ugh.

14.  I swear, everyone is trying to bug me at work because they know I have a lot to get done.  I am trying to just get through the 147 pieces of mail we got today, with the pleasure of listening to Yahoo! Unlimited, but they just won’t let me!!

Friday, August 11, 2006

 

1.  After MUCH anticipation all day of a televised Rams preseason game against the Colts, we lost power 15 minutes before it started.  Are you F*&%ing kidding me?!  We were running on a generator, so the TV wouldn’t stay on – it would stay on long enough for me to see the score then go off.  I was so mad.  I almost cried.  I really did.  The good news is they won, and it looks like defense has improved greatly.  Special teams need a lot of work.  And it’s weird not to see Martz pacing the sidelines.  I am so excited for football season!!

2.  I just snuck across the street to get some lunch from the State building.  It was good (and cheap).  I should’ve been going over there all along instead of starving.

3.  Gwen, the legislative aide upstairs, is leaving today.  It’s her very last day after 15 years.  I guess this means I might hear something soon about filling in.  It’s a mess otherwise.

4.  I managed to talk Mike into going to see the “So You Think You Can Dance” tour with me in October.  That’ll be fun.  I hope we aren’t the only people there over 24.

5.  I’ve got to slow my mind down.  I keep getting too over-excited about going home and it’s making these last three weeks unbearably painful.  I’m just ready to go and have fun!!!

 

Are you ready for some football?!

I sure as hell am!  I was hyped ALL day in anticipation of the St. Louis Rams and Indiannapolis Colts preseason game since it was going to be telecast.  Last night was... well, the universe was working against me.  A storm rolled through Atlanta around 7:30 p.m.  We lost power at the end of the storm, just 15 minutes before the game was to start.  So, yeah.  I didn't get to see much football.  We run on a generator, but the television wouldn't stay on - I could turn it on long enough to catch the score every now and then, but it would shut off after a few seconds/minutes.  I know I drove everyone crazy whining because I was missing a televised Rams preseason game.  But ya'll know I've missed an entire season of football, and it's rare to see a Rams game in Atlanta.  The important thing is, all things considered, the Rams played okay with their second teams.  They won 19-17 over the Colts.  But it's okay, because exactly one month from yesterday, I will be AT the Ram's season home opener in St. Louis. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

 

1.  It’s Wednesday, and I’m just now getting down to an update.  Whew.  Work has been uber-busy.  That’s a good thing.

2.  I was just given a gift journal from Economic Development.  It’s really cool, with the Georgia symbol on it.  I like presents : )

3.  We have started a new round of interns here at the Capitol.  It seems our department has been blessed with some functioning interns rather than the luke-warm bodies we received the last round.

4.  I am borderline irritable today.  The day just has that sort of feel about it.  I didn’t get quality sleep last night.  I was tired and slept good, except I kept getting woken up.  Moo and I were asleep when Stephanie came in around 11 p.m., so I heard her get in and out of her locker a thousand times.  Then they both got up to go to the bathroom at 2:30 a.m. and Moo left the door open so the noise and the light from the hall woke me up.  And peeing is contagious, so I had to get up and go.  Then Stephanie I guess ended up having to work, so she was back up with the f#%$ing light on at 4 a.m., and in and out of her locker another thousand times.  Then Moo got up at 6 a.m.  By the time 6:20 a.m. came around, I felt like I hadn’t slept.  I know, I know – 14 days.  The bus ride was chaotic and we were running late, so that further irritated me.  And Oliver and his whistling is enough to top it all of.  Sheesh.

5.  I received some unfortunate news this weekend.  Brandi, a girl Tenli and I were really good friends with up until she went home in March, lost her baby.  She was 5 months along and had miscarriage.  She sent word through someone else.  Both of us shed a few tears over it, because she was really excited about this baby.

6.  I also received some bittersweet news this weekend about the fire department up at Alto.  Seems the girls must be in Mod II training, because they are not fighting fires yet, but they are on call 24/7 and going out with Baldwin County on calls.  They moved them over to their own unit – in the building where the administrative staff is.  Each one has their own room, and they have cable and A/C.  Would I give up what I have now?  Absolutely not.  But it’s hard to not feel some remorse in being a part of it.  I am so proud of them and how far they’ve come.  Apparently, the new Warden was a fire chief, so I guess that got the ball rolling.

7.  I am having a serious craving for Mystery Science Theater 3000.  No idea why, but I’d forgotten about it until yesterday.

8.  I just devoured a Krispy Kreme doughnut.  When I say I pretty much swallowed it whole, I’m not exaggerating much.

9.  Moo did an incredibly nice thing for me, and it proves that she can be aware of others, and that maybe somewhere, we really are friends, it just doesn’t always seem like it.  Okay, LT has a book in her office called “The Games Criminals Play”.  Moo has been curious about the book for the last year or so, but LT (rightfully so!) wouldn’t let her read it.  Well, Moo knows I’m a serious psych major, and conned LT into borrowing it so I could read it.  Of course LT doesn’t know I’m reading it.  But I got goose-bumps on my arms when Moo handed it to me!  I mean, what a gem!  It’s freaky and weird and exciting.  Most of the stuff in the book is quite obvious to me because I lived it, but what a great book for someone who’s not been to jail.  I can see everything first hand that they talk about.  It’s made my week.

10.  Also, Missy and I traded movie lists this week.  We both like strange movies – independent, etc.  So we each made a list of movies we love and swapped.  I know it sounds simple and weird, but it was cool to do that.  We have such a good bond.

11.  I had to watch a fairly new resident get chewed up and spit out by Ms. Saunders this morning.  She is the assistant to Ms. Campbell, the Superintendent, but by the way she acts, you would think it was in reverse.  Anyway, the girl messed up and didn’t ask for permission to pass before zooming around Ms. Saunders.  So Ms. Saunders went off on her, and instead of just saying ‘yes ma’am’ and letting her say what she had to say, the girl tried to offer explanation and what not, which just gave Ms. Saunders what she was looking for.  She ended up in her office, and rode to work on my bus.  She was in tears the whole way, talking about how she’s ready to give it up and go back to prison.  It’s strange after having been there for nearly 10 months, and being able to tell who’s weak in mind and who’s not.  Her defense is she’s served 5 years and she’s tired.  Well, we’re all tired.  Whether you’ve served 1 month or 20 years, we’re all tired, but the only thing we can control is our own mind.  I realized seeing this girl act the way she did how much I’ve learned by being here.

12.  Life at the Center is a living hell right now.  They have literally transplanted the B building residents down to C building.  Okay, tomorrow is the big audit – apparently these are huge deals.  I mean, I remember them up at Alto, and yeah, they were big.  But if you are doing what you are supposed to be doing anyway, then it really isn’t that big of a deal.  MTC apparently isn’t run the way it’s supposed to be, because girls have been working around the clock for the last three days getting everything into shape – painting all walls and doorways and floors, buffing and waxing the floors, lawn work, etc.  Now, they just had an audit (same kind) in October… why wasn’t this stuff being done all along?  Why are we waiting until this week to do it?!  C building now looks like a refugee camp like when their air went out and they had to move up to our buildings.  I mean, that’s not even humane.  It’s all a front.  This makes MTC just as criminal as we are to a degree. (exit soap box)

14.  Oh, great.  The street in front of the Capitol is closed because Al Sharpton is leading a rally.

15.  I had to leave early yesterday to go pick up my Rx refills from Grady.  I got stuck in the major rain storm, but fortunately I was able to stay in the train station until it passed.  Honestly, the only thing that made me wait it out (over 30 minutes) was one, I really didn’t want to return to the Center that early, and two, I stopped at the McDonald’s next to the hospital for dinner.  Ha!  : )

16.  I have developed quite a crush on tennis star James Blake.  I know he’s hot anyway, but after seeing him on Oprah yesterday, I think I might really love him!  He’s so passionate and gentle and confident and humble and charismatic all at one time.  He’s so beautiful, and he looks great even with his dreds shaved off!

18.  Gayle is too cool, and she’s good to me.  She had to go to the bank, so she was going to stop at Chik-fil-a to get us some lunch.  I wanted a salad with chicken strips, bleu cheese dressing, and French fries.  The Chik-fil-a was closed, so she went to Lettuce Souprise You! to get our salad, then to McDonald’s for fries.  I love her!!

 

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 Thursday, August 17, 2006

 

1.  Well, at least it’s Thursday already.  Exactly two weeks from right this very minute, I will be F-R-E-E!!

2.  It is audit day, and I couldn’t be happier that we can survive the day and move on with our lives.  I did mess up this morning.  So did Moo, really.  Moo left her fan out on her locker, and left pennies, a piece of wood and a book on her locker.  I just forgot to sweep really good behind the lockers.  I really could careless, except that if they inspect our room and find it to be under par, we are sure to get written up.  The ONLY reason that bothers me is if we get an infraction, they will likely pull my very last pass next weekend.  I hate to miss a pass, but hell, I’m almost out the door.  It’s not worth me stressing over.  So, whatever.  I can tell I don’t care anymore.  I would’ve been up an hour early a few months ago to scrub the room down.

3.  “So You Think You Can Dance” was great last night!  I liked how they did the show so we could see favorite dances again.  I loved seeing Ivan and Alyson do “Why” and Travis and Heidi do that one contemporary dance again.  I loved it!  I am happy Benji won, but I was still hoping for Travis.  I LOVED Ciara’s performance.   thought Fergie’s performance was good, too.  I am NOT a fan of Blackeyed Peas, but I like her by herself.

4.  New roommate is seriously a pain in my ass.  She has been working mornings, which means she’s up before 4 a.m. I am tired of dealing with the light and her locker noise.  This is causing Moo to react (hypocritically at that!), and she’s going to drive me crazy.  13 DAYS!!

5.  Emails from Dawn and Teri today have warmed my heart.  I am feeling loved : )

6.  Gayle and Katie walked over to the New York Deli and brought back lunch for me (Hunan Beef and chicken lo mein).  It was great.  We got to sit around at Gayle’s desk and eat and chat.  I really enjoyed that.

7.  I would do anything to be able to listen to music on the bus…

Friday, August 18, 2006

 

1.  Kelly and Rae met me for breakfast at the State building today (illegally of course).  He had to go to Veteran’s Affairs for something, so it was convenient.  It was a nice breakfast.  

2.  Freakily enough, Ms. Thomas, the job coordinator at the Center, stopped by the here at the Capitol not 5 or 10 minutes after I got here.  She was here to stop in and say ‘hi’ to Kay and Gayle, and to talk about the fact they need to start interviewing for my position, not necessarily to check up on me.  She waved at me as she was passing by the door, but she didn’t even come in to see me or anything.  It was just freaky that the one morning I am bad, she appears.  I had just been talking about her to Gayle, too.

3.  The audit is finally over!!  Life has resumed back to normal at the Center for the most part.  Ms. Campbell said we did real good in the audit.  There was, however, one major problem.  Jennifer, the girl that works with LA at Xpress Lube, is in serious trouble.  We are to be inspection ready at all times (even our lockers, even when we’re at work).  Well, yesterday during the inspection, they went by Jennifer’s room (B building is open with cubicle-like dividers, not actual rooms) and they smelled a strong odor (like bad food or something).  The auditor lady ordered them to open the three lockers in that room.  When they opened Jennifer’s, stuff literally fell out on her.  Now, if it had been your average Center inspection, she would’ve gotten a DR and a lot of extra detail, but when you embarrass the Warden and Ms. Campbell like that?  Shoot.  The Warden ordered Ms. Campbell to send her back to prison.  She was served the DR last night, and we’ll see if she goes back. 

4.  Moo totally shocked me last night.  I know we had our rough moments, but we really are friends and I really do care for her.  I have started to realize all week how much fun we really have.  Yeah, she gets on my nerves, but we live 3 people to a 15x18 room, and we’ve been in that room together for 6 months, so we are going to get on each others nerves.  But we have the same sense of humor for the most part, and enjoy our banter.  Last night she was giving me my ‘black girl’ name, which is Iesha.  She told me that she thinks about me when she’s at work, wondering what crazy stuff I’m going to come home and tell her about the day and what went on.  She’s told me that before.  Then she stopped, looked at me and said, “I’m really going to miss you when you’re gone.”  It literally is the very first time that she’s even acknowledged that I’m leaving soon.  She’s never mentioned it – ever.  I think mostly because she’s still stuck there until February.  So that really touched me last night.  I guess maybe my leaving is harder on her than I realize.

5.  I was even more shocked this morning.  Today is our bathroom day (last one ever!!).  In the morning, technically the whole Center is supposed to clean (those that are in the building), so we don’t necessarily HAVE to clean it since we are getting ready for work (my roommates were already gone).  Well, this shift said our room had to clean it.  That meant me, and I already had my work clothes on and had to leave in 20 minutes.  Ingram, the resident I can’t STAND (big fat bully) came and demanded I clean the bathroom.  I knew the staff was checking the detail sheet, and that I’d get written up if I didn’t do something.  So I said, “Well, I’ll do what I can until I have to leave.”  She left for a second, came back and said, “Come on, Settlemoir, I’ll help you.”  I was in my work clothes, so I pulled the trash and started sweeping.  She came back with chemicals and started cleaning.  She said nicely, “Just finish sweeping and take the trash up front, and I’ll do the rest.”  I looked at her (did the blink, blink thing) astonished and said, “Are you sure?”  She said, “Yeah, I’ll do it since you’ve already got your work clothes on.”  You’ve got to understand this woman.  I can’t stand her.  She’s the one that hangs around with the nasty officers. And she’s the one that threatened to ‘tell on me’ and get me in trouble because she thought I wasn’t doing a detail awhile back.  It was a pleasant surprise.  I like it when people surprise me like that.

6.  Kay has a meeting with John, the Chief of Staff, Tuesday. She’s going to discuss me filling in and staying here.  Keep your fingers crossed.

7.  My cousin Jeff received the letter I wrote to my grandmother last night.  I had actually forgotten about it.  I guess we’ll see what the outcome is.

8.  I’ve had a fabulous day.  Gayle keeps me in such high spirits.  I actually leave work a little high.  And I’ve been listening to booty shaking music on top of it.  I’m ready to go to da club!!

11.  Tomorrow is Saturday.  I am sweating my pass just a tiny bit since Ms. Calvert is gone.   But I have faith I’ll be at home tomorrow.  

12.  I’ve come to love Friday nights.  I feel more relaxed, and I usually go walk at yard call, too.  I think because I know I’m going home the next day, and it’s also the end of another week.  One more Friday night after this.

13.  Here’s my weird count down:  days left in prison: 12, bathroom details left: 1, days of work left: 7, liver nights left: 0, episodes of Prison Break left: 2, passes home left: 2, Friday nights left: 2, Sgt. Channel rotations left: 1, days of seeing LT left: 9, boring and depressing Sundays left: 2, linen days left: 0, feminine cycles left: 0, breakfasts in the State Building left: 7, Creative Loafing reads left: 1

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

 

I am in the midst of finishing my long-winded update on the weekend, and last Friday.  I really want to blog about last Friday because it was one of those days where everything seemed to just fall into place.  In the meantime, here’s some other stuff:

 

1.  It is officially ‘Write It!’ day, or as MC Hammer would day, ‘U Can’t Touch This!’.  I am no longer worried about infractions or walking on egg shells at the Center.  I won’t be acting out, but I’m not going to sweat the small stuff anymore.  They really can’t affect me.  I can still get a DR, but that’s huge stuff and I don’t do anything to warrant one anyway.  8 days of this mess left!

2.  Last night’s premiere of Prison Break was so good!  I’ve missed Wentworth Miller so much.  The episode knocked my socks off – the writers of that show are brilliant.  I’m so happy it’s time for fall television!

3.  Ms. Thomas called me in her office this morning before I left for work to talk to three residents about my job.  I guess they’ll be the first three candidates for my position.  Rebecca was on long term maintenance and worked on the GBA detail.  I think she’d be a pretty good candidate.  Neshelle I have known since Diagnostics.  I am trying hard not to be biased – I couldn’t stand her in Diagnostics.  This is her fourth or fifth trip to prison, and she truly has that mindset about her.  But she seems to adapt to her environment.  So if she’s in prison, she’ll be like all the rest.  I think if she were in this office, she would adapt to this as well.  So I wouldn’t rule her out.  The third girl I don’t know at all.  She seemed okay, but she interrupted me every 10 words to make assumptions.  Turns out the three of them are coming in for a first interview tomorrow morning at 11 a.m.  The whole thing made reality set in that it’s time for me to go.  Very weird.

4.  Moo and I sat talking and doing our silly skits for about an hour and a half last night.  I really am going to miss her.  We’ve been back to the way we were the first 4 months or so we lived together.  I am wondering if her resentment for LA is what started to come between us.  Last night she said, “I’m really going to miss you.  I’ve never met another white girl like you.”

6.  I got my last letter from Dawn last night (the last one in prison!).  It was a sweet gesture.

7.  Teri caught me off guard Saturday.  I knew her friend Allison was taking her out for her 38th birthday.  I didn’t expect the email I got from her – it shows she and I are always going to share a special connection:  Dearest Andi, I have no business telling you about this evening -however, I am sitting in an Austin Four Seasons hotel...a beautiful suite...am sipping champagne in the lobby and waiting for Allison to finish with her last patient.  Did I mention she's a psychologist? I can't seem to get away from the business.  Anyway, I know it's crazy -but I wish you were here. Me -i 've changed...I know you have too...and yet, a part of me is confident we would connect right here right now-anyway, for what it's worth...I am thinking of you.  Love, Teri  I haven’t been able to email her back yet.  I guess I’ve been pondering a similarly sweet response.  She’s right – we’ve changed, but yet we haven’t.

9.  I keep forgetting to mention Diane.  I guess everyone is familiar with former Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell reporting to prison yesterday to serve out his 2.5 year sentence.  Diane is a woman who’s served 5 years state time, and she is at the Center with me.  We’ve talked a lot over the last year because she used to work in government, too, and she’s actually serving time because of that.  Interestingly, Diane worked for one of the commissioners (Insurance I think?) when all this mess started happening, and that commissioner eventually went to prison as well.  Diane is serving her time because of this mess – like me, she got caught up in something she didn’t even realize was happening.  Our lives parallel in such strange ways.  She was the first one to ‘go down’ because she is one of the little people, and she settled for a plea bargain (that whole David & Goliath thing I was facing).  Now she’s seeing the people that put her in prison face the same fate as they go to prison.  She said she thought she’d find some relief or vindication, but she feels nothing.  I can relate.  If Jim were to go to prison today, would I feel any better?  Probably not.  It doesn’t fix what’s been done, it doesn’t change my fate or my future.  On an interesting note, Diane said that if things keep going the way they are, more political figures are likely to follow.  She says there were others involved in the dirty works of Bill Campbell and the commissioner.

10.  Teri’s response was extremely overwhelming and heart felt – she fell nothing short of what I’d expect from her:  Wow. 8 days and counting...unbelievably wonderful news!  I am genuinely happy for you.  And for our friendship -- Amen to everything you wrote...and then some.  I am convinced that you and I paid whatever price in a past life or perhaps simply in our past...that has brought us to the priceless bond that just seems to grow more and more valuable with each passing day.  I count you amongst one of my nearest and dearest friends -- We couldn't hold a candle to the time and energy we've spent in other relationships with other people...and yet, I know that what we have will outlast so many of those others.  That's very cool. And I am very grateful.  I don't say it enough...thank you for being in my life - and above all for returning......ebb and flow is a magical mystical kinda thing ...just when we think the tide has robbed us of our lives...it returns over and over again...of course, if you're anything like me...I stand on the shore waiting for that damn wave that left me behind...instead of realizing that it's gone.  The best we can do is surf out on the next wave and hope it takes us pass the breakers this time.  I'd like to believe I've made my way back out to sea -- I'd like to believe that you too are about to stand on the shore and actually get a chance to "watch" the tide come and go.  Hopefully, you won't jump at the first wave that comes in....stare at the water a while --- it looks different when you know you can wade out and you're no longer tethered or tied to safety.   Promise me you won't trust anyone else's raft --- avoid yachts and speedboats that offer you a "quick" tow beyond the breakers...if I've learned nothing else -I've learned that one DOES have to carry themselves out to sea.  Just as important is to avoid anyone who suggests you sit on the shore and turn your back on the sea.  You'll be offered both -- And you'll have to ask yourself -- Who have I become and whom do I want to be? Short cuts have a way of taking longer then if we had swam through the fear and darkness in the first place.  No more short cuts. No fast tracks.  That's been my motto since I arrived in Texas -- People think I've lost my mind -- If I had a nickel for every time I've been asked why I don't just take an online course or skip a day of class...or if I would just teach this one workshop I could make a lot of money.  I smile and politely tell them I want to do things the "Hard way."  I want to try something different...something new.  I want to know in the end that I not only suffered through the fear and darkness on my own...but that there is no shroud of ethical blurring...no hidden favor or secret...no lie to be discovered...no pain to be inflicted -- I want to feel pride.  There’s enough gray matter in my personal life...I don't want any more gray matter in my professional or societal participation.  OK. I've floated out to sea on a tangent!  Forgive me.  I just think that you "get it."  And it feels so "light" to know that you "get" me.  Thanks for being alive and for being human....but most of all...thanks for sharing the one thing that does strengthen our bond more then anything....that desire to be a better person and to make a difference in this world.  We will always share that passion.  Hold on tight my love -- remember to breathe....and know that 8 days is only 8 days until you trade in one timeline for another.  Meaning -it's going to be OK.  You wake up on the 9th day and you realize that counting days  is no longer  necessary.  And you don't make any serious life decisions until that day arrives that you wake up and can't recall what day of the week it is to save your life! (Grin)  I believe in you.  Always have.  Always will.

 

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Thursday, August 24, 2006

 

1.  Who didn’t turn in their sheets yesterday, IS ME!  That’s right, I ignored linen day.  Hey, Moo has been ignoring it for months now and never gets and infraction.  But now I don’t care, because infractions mean nothing to me!  Ha ha.  I’m down to 6 (long) days!!  Exactly one week from right now, I’ll be out there somewhere.

2.  I am leaving in the nick of time.  Seems LT is moving shifts around, switching the day time SGTs with the night SGTs.  So far, Sgt. Channel (whom I can’t stand) is moving to night shift, as is Sgt. Thompson.  Man, the thought of having to deal with Channel in the evenings turns my stomach.  Fortunately, I only have 4 days of it!!

3.  Yesterday completely flew by.  3 girls from the Center were interviewed for my job.  One of them won’t want this job, but they are having a hard time deciding between the other two.  I guess we’re going to meet today to discuss it and make a decision.

5.  Yesterday was Outback Steakhouse day.  So good!  And, officially my last illegal lunch!

7.  I swear my day goes great until I hit that #32 bus in the afternoons.  I always leave here so hyped and motivated and positive.  Then I get on the bus and it totally drains me.  It’s so crowded now (and I’m in the ghetto).  I always end up having to sit next to the person who want to crowd my space and fall asleep on me.  Disgusting!  I am sick of it!  I never used to be claustrophobic, but I think MARTA is making me that way.  I do not like crowds now, and I don’t like people invading my personal space.

8.  Still no word on what’s going to happen to me having a job at the Capitol post-incarceration.  There’s a lot of stuff going on; the receptionist/aide down here is two steps from getting fired.  I think they’re trying to move her to another agency.  But who knows.  I don’t know that’d I’d really want her job.  I don’t know what I want.  If they offer me something, I’ll take it to tide me over, but my job search will continue unless I become a full fledged legal aide.

 

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Friday, August 25, 2006

 

1.  As Kelly said, I’m down to ONE HAND!  5 Days!  I can look at one hand and that’s how many days I have left.  Unbelievable.

2.  Dude!  Serious close call this morning!!!  So… I’m over at the state building having breakfast as usual.  I had eaten my bacon and biscuit, had just started on the hash browns (that left most of the potatoes and all of the eggs and my coffee).  I look up, and see a CO over by the hot food bar.  You know I’m used to seeing COs around there because it’s all inmates working there.  But for some reason lately, I haven’t seen many COs at all.  When I looked up, I saw the blue of the uniform, and even when there are COs in the cafeteria, they are NEVER by the food line.  On top of that, I could tell it was a female CO and I’ve never seen a female CO working there.  Then I realized, OH SH*T!!!  That’s Ms. Jackson!  I pretty much hightailed it out of there, but I got up and before I’d gotten three steps I realized I forgot my coffee which I hadn’t even touched yet – no way was I leaving without that.  So I went back and grabbed my coffee and smoothly made an exit.  At the Center while I was in the lounge waiting for the bus this morning, some of the girls were saying Ms. Jackson was already out early checking job sites (that’s normal).  But you know no one in uniform ever checks my job.  So when she’s supposed to be out checking job sites, she’s really hanging out downtown having breakfast!   Strange that I’ve been doing this for 7 months and this is the first and only time I’ve even remotely had a close call.  HA!!

3.  Gayle and I are walking over to the Department of Corrections today to meet with Misty, the legislative liaison.  We are going to meet others and just visit the office, nothing major.  BUT, the Commissioner should be there, and Misty is going to try to get me in there to visit with him for a minute.  I’m excited, but admittedly a little nervous!!  We are also going to have lunch over there : )

4.  They decided which girl to hire for my job yesterday.  She’s going to do okay I think. In good news, Kay hasn’t even discussed me staying on permanently with the Chief of Staff yet.  That’s good news, because they were supposed to discuss it Tuesday. I figured maybe they did and he didn’t approve it so she just wasn’t saying anything.  So this means there’s still a chance.  I’ll still be doing fill in work and training off and on through September regardless.  Keep your fingers crossed!!

6.  My sister and I have been emailing – I’m so excited to see her and my family.  She got the 8th off of work, so I’ll be leaving for St. Louis on the 7th.  I’ll get two whole days with her.

7.  I ended up talking to Lisa last night.  Lisa is a stud that I’ve done time with since Diagnostics.  I distanced myself from her after two separate, very bad incidents with two of my then good friends (yes, this is true prison drama) Krystal and Butterfly.  My opinion of her wasn’t too high… but then I just realized it is prison, she’s been to prison at least 3 times, and she’s just doing her thing.  I kind of cringed when I saw her last week, but I think she’s changed.  She seems to be taking the program seriously and seems to be turning her life around.  Supposedly, she’s marrying the girl she ultimately ended up with at Alto.  You can imagine the hell I got for being seen walking the track with a stud.  Everyone knows I don’t much hang with the studs (yeah, Shon was a serious exception), much less socialize like that period.

Monday, August 28, 2006

 

The Big, Huge News

Well, there's so much to tell.  It's not just one piece of news.  It's a whole bunch of stuff that happened Friday rolled into one big, crazy, exciting day.  My adrenaline was so crazy I was shaking.  I also hate that I completely forgot to post my blog updates Thursday and Friday.  It would probably have helped in explaining things.  This is going to be a long one...

 

Gayle and I had been planning on going over to the State Building to see Misty at the Department of Corrections.  She is the liaison over there, and wanted me to come over to see their offices and meet everyone.  We finally got to go over Friday.  She said to meet her over there at 1:30 p.m. and the Commissioner should be there so we could probably stick our head in and say hello.  Gayle and I went over an hour early so we could eat lunch in the cafeteria.

 

That in itself was weird.  That has been the first time in a very long time that I sat in restaurant setting (legally) with company and what not.  It was great, but it also indicated that my transition is still going to be a lot more difficult than I realized.  I was pretty much forced to sit with my back to the crowd, which made me extremely uncomfortable because I'm not used to that.  But it's going to be okay.  Gayle happened to see her sister who works for the Parole Board, so we went and sat with them.  It was nice to finally meet her.

 

We went up and met Misty.  She's so cool - she's like the eternal sorority sister, only smart.  She introduced us to the two secretaries, and then the Commissioner came out of a meeting to see me.  I was taken by surprise by that.  He had only good things to say, about how proud he is of me.  He launched into his 'credentials' speech, which must be his current favorite.  It's the same speech I heard him give at LASP, and when he came and met me the first time at the Governor's Office.  But it is a good speech.  Basically, I (we) are his credentials.

 

He said he'd had a meeting with Shirley Franklin, the Mayor of Atlanta, and that he had an extensive conversation with her about me.  I was really surprised by that, and flattered, too.  He also asked Misty if they'd found a job for me, and Misty was sort of caught off guard.  He made it quite known that he really wanted to place me with the DOC.  He said, to Misty, that they'd get together and discuss my resume and work out a short and long term career plan based on what I want to do with the DOC.  Misty even later told us that his word is impeccable - he doesn't make offers or promises he doesn't intend to keep.  That has been my experience with him also.

 

Then he ended up taking us into his meeting.  He was meeting with Brian Owen, the Assistant Commissioner, and some other important-looking people.  He talked to them more about me and what I've done, etc.  It was truly flattering.  Apparently he talks about me all the time, because everyone seemed to have heard of me and seemed excited to meet me.

 

We went into Misty's office, and the three of us visited for a minute.  Misty is definitely going to keep in touch and help me out with a career path.  She has a little bit of an idea as to what I want to do. 

 

After that, we went next door to Public Affairs (for the DOC).  Misty has been talking to Yolanda, who is the Director, since I started at the Capitol.  Yolanda has desperately wanting to meet me because she is heavily involved with the prison system.  Their department handles all of the media - website, press releases, etc.  It was so great to go over and talk to her because of my own media and marketing background.  I almost think that would be a dream job for me, considering my talents and personal interest in the prison system.

 

She kind of caught me off guard, though, because she wanted to do a story on me for the newsletter - one goes to all of Capitol Hill and the other one is for the DOC.  I am considered a success story, but apparently on a different level than they've ever had before, especially considering my interest in a career in corrections.  So she did an interview.  I was so nervous!  But I think it went well.  She also took mine and Gayle's picture for the article.

 

I'm going to call her as soon as I'm home because she wants to work with me as well.  She'll have a hand in the re-entry program (jobs), and she seemed to perk up when I told her about my background in graphics, marketing and writing.  She also will put me in touch with the advocacy programs, such as the Choose Freedom project where I'll get to go speak to school students and others about crime, prison, etc. like I did on the fire department. 

 

She said she'd also like to get me involved in some Task Force work.  She said they are seeing a rise in crimes among women, and the problem is that the prison system is build for men, and they just take the same system/programs and slap some pink paint on it and use it on women.  She really starting talking in the direction I'm trying to go!!  So I was really excited about what's to come with all that.

 

When Gayle and I left the GDC, I was literally high.  I swear I was.  My adrenaline was out of control.  Being there also reminded me that the transition was going to rough for awhile.  That type of environment is what I usually thrive in, but I clammed up yesterday!  I did well - I was outgoing when I needed to be, but I could tell I wasn't on my game.  I was struggling.  I can tell I've been forced to stay quiet and over-reserved for a long time, and I'm not used to speaking up.  I'm sure it's going to come back once I'm out in the real world; I just hadn't realized how bad it was.

 

We went back to the Capitol and went in to talk to Kay to tell her about the afternoon (we were gone for like 2 hours).  She didn't go with us because she was supposed to have a meeting with John, the Chief of Staff, at 1:30.  But she was there when we got back.  We went in to her office and told her about everything.  She said ironically that the Governor had asked about me that morning, too.  My ears should've been on fire!!

 

Then she put on her serious face and said she'd had a talk with John, the Chief of Staff, but it didn't go as planned.  They have been going through some rough spots since Kay has been dealing with some personnel issues in our department, so she thought that they'd have it out again.

 

She said that she told John that I was doing a better job than she can say for most of the department, and I'm not even a permanent employee... but she'd like to make me one.  He asked questions about me and my skills and how I've been doing.  Then he said, "Do what you feel is right.  If you want to keep her, hire her." 

 

And with that, I was told that if I wanted to stay here at the Capitol as a permanent employee, I could.  It's a done deal, just not on paper - I don't know any details in regards to position, salary, etc.  I know that I will be starting at the bottom again, answering phones and doing miscellaneous work until I can move up.  But it's a foot in the door, and not too bad for convicted felon! 

 

I am admittedly worried about salary, because it is government work and I am starting at the low end of the totem pole.  But I just have a sense of peace, like it's all going to be okay.  I am where I'm supposed to be.  I am going to try and get back to doing contract work to compensate for a lower salary, and I am definitely going to go before a judge to lower my restitution payments.  It's going to be okay.

 

You cannot imagine the relief that is coursing through my body.  For one, I don't have to worry about a job!  No having to concoct the right story in interviews, worrying about background checks or having to explain 11 felony convictions (sort of).  I will be able to leave work to report to my PO (right up the street!) as needed without having to lie.  When I have to go to court to deal with the restitution, I'll be able to do what I need to do.

 

They are going to be very flexible with me, as I am with them.  It's going to take some time to work out the details (salary, description, etc.), so I'm staying on part-time at my hourly rate until at least September 15.  That gives me time to get me and my house and my life settled before starting full time without pressure.  I am going to come in a few hours next week to assist in training the new girl, and then a few hours the week I return from St. Louis since both Gayle and Kay will be out.

 

The job doesn't come with all cake and ice cream.  There will be some major adjusting points, and maybe I won't be able to stay at this job long.  Salary of course is an issue, depending on what they come back with (there is little to no negotiation in this job). Also, it's going to be a lot of receptionist work for awhile, and while I can do it, I pretty much despise it.  I am going to try and stick it out as long as I can and try to quickly turn it into something else as I prove myself.  One of my biggest hurdles?  I will likely be sitting out in the lobby with Pam, the main receptionist.  That woman will grate on your nerves to the point you want to choke her.  It's too much to go into here.  No one in the office talks to her anymore unless they absolutely have to (she's the one that's almost been fired a dozen times since I've been here).  But I'll make the best of it and see.  If nothing else, this becomes a stepping stone to something else.

 

I just can't believe all of this.  I can't believe all this is happening.  What's frustrating is I can't even convey my excitement in typed words right now.  I was jittery and anxious and excited Friday.  I told Gayle that I was so high, they might urine test me when I got back to the Center.  She said, "Just tell them that's excitement in your urine!"  All things considered, my life felt perfect just as it is as I was walking outside toward the train station.

 

So that's the big news.  It has not been announced at work; only the three of us know (Kay, Gayle and I).  It is not going to be announced until everything is in writing, so I am kind of just playing it off right now.

What's going on in my head...

LA said it would hit me.  I thought I'd escaped it, but I don't think I did.  She said that it would suddenly hit you that your life is not the same as when you left.  See, life obviously doesn't stop when you go to prison. But all you have left in your mind is your life as you knew it before prison.  It's what you imagine yourself going back to.  Rarely is that ever the case.

 

I am going back to my house, my car, and my cats.  Everything else, though, is different.  The circumstances in my friends' and family's lives have changed.  They are all in different places, too, and I've missed out on that.

 

I guess it was just this overwhelming feeling that I don't know where I belong anymore.  I mean, I know my friends and family love me and are there for me, but reestablishment is going to be a long road.  And friend-wise, they are all one big group now for the most part (except for Mike and Shon), and they've all been going out and doing things without me - it's like my friends that I've known separately for so long all know each other better than they know me or I know them now.

It makes me wonder... am I even as strong as I think I am? 

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

 

 The End of the Road

 

Yes, it's finally the 29th.  I am less than 48 hours away.  Below is the email I sent out this morning.  I tried to include as many people in the email as I could, but I know I don't have everyone's email from the blog world.  So I am going to post it here in case some of you didn't get it (I apologize if you didn't).

 

Hi everyone…

 

Today is my last day of work, at least while incarcerated.  In less than 48 hours, I will belong to myself again, not the State of Georgia.  It feels a little strange to finally be saying this, but it’s almost over.  I’ve dreamed about this and thought about it for a long time, wondering how it would feel when the time finally came.  Here it is, and honestly, it hasn’t sunk in yet.

 

I want to say thank you to everyone, because truly, I would not have done my time as gracefully without you.  I know it’s just flimsy words in an email right now, but I will see you and talk to you all individually soon to properly thank you and express my gratitude.

 

For a year and a half, I’ve been surrounded by girls who have no idea what it’s like to have support from even one person like you.  And here I have an entire army of friends and family that support me, love me and encourage me everyday.  Each one of you is a true hero in my eyes.  I did not do my time alone – you all did my time with me.  And for that, I am eternally grateful.

 

I am truly, truly excited to be getting back to my life and to all of you.  I know I landed on my feet (and then some!), and life will be back to ‘normal’ soon.  I have so much to look forward to, and I feel blessed that I have been afforded the opportunity to see the world through a different set of eyes.

 

I know its going to take some time for me to adjust; I am realizing in my final days that just because I served a relatively short sentence, I didn’t escape becoming somewhat institutionalized.  I’ve stayed strong in mind, but that also meant becoming somewhat of a wall flower, not speaking until spoken to, trying to keep a low profile, never having an opinion, never making choices, etc.  It’s going to take awhile to get my groove back.  So if I seem distant for awhile, it’s just part of the process.

 

Above all, I look forward to getting back to you, my friends and family.  Being away from everyone was the hardest part of these 18 months.  I’ll be driving to St. Louis on September 7th, and then driving back the 13th.

 

Until I see you all soon, take care.  I am truly blessed to have you.

 

---------------------------------

Thursday, August 31, 2006

 

 ...and a wake up...

Andi is officially free : )

 

More later (of course!).

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