Posts Tagged ‘i love my inmate’

So I’ve been pretty negligent of… everything but school and work really, over the course of the holidays. I’m sorry. It’s not you, it’s me. I struggled a bit through the holidays. I mostly resolved myself that it was just another day of the week, because this was the first holiday I really had to face without him. Last year he was gone, sure, but I went home for Christmas, and didn’t feel the sting of his absence as much as I did this year. That’s okay though; onward & upward. Hopefully he’ll see parole review in the next week or so, and if, God willing, they grant it, he’ll have just over a year left before coming home. I’m pretty certain the waiting and wondering is the worst part, at least for me. I’ve long since adjusted to life without him here physically. I don’t like it, but I’m used to it. What I haven’t really been able to adjust to is the hurry up & wait policy of the bureaucratic red tape. Patience has never been my virtue and this has been a test unlike any other I’ve encountered before. I’m really not a big fan of it. But who asked me, right?

I’ve been plugging away the last few days at the wintermester history class I took to help fill my time. I’ve been a little stir crazy since the fall semester ended, because I got pretty used to juggling my three classes and full time job, as well as familial obligations and visitation. It was hectic, but it was healthier than I’d been otherwise since this nightmare began. While this one class is pretty heavy in that it involves A LOT of reading and whatnot, the assignments themselves really don’t take a lot of time at all, except for the couple of papers I’ve needed to write. It has been a bit of a learning curve for me though… hell, a lot of a learning curve for me. All of my grade school & high school education was in Canada. There are some elements of US History that I had vague familiarity with, but no where near what I’ve learned in the last few weeks. It’s been extremely sobering and in a lot of ways really disheartening. I can’t change the past, but I can try to not participate in the residual elements of the ugly truths still present today.
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I feel I’ve been pretty productive today though.. all but one mandatory paper and my final done, and those will be finished in short order this week. I may also get to feeling froggy and get one or more of the extra credit assignments done. We’ll see how that goes. Back to work this week for a full week, dinner plans with a favorite family member on Tuesday and counseling on Wednesday for the first time in three weeks. I’ll also formally meet my new counselor starting this week as well… I’ve met him before but never in a formal session. I’m sorry to see the current one go, but I do understand life happens to everyone. I’m hopeful that she will stay in touch.

Overall, 2014 proved to be a lot better than 2013… I’m hopeful that things will keep going in that direction. Cheers to that. Onward & upward, y’all. Here’s to a phenomenal 2015. The best is yet to come!

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Well here I am in the parking lot at counseling a little early again with a few thoughts to express here real quick. With the holidays being here, it’s been pretty crazy. I’m becoming more and more involved in my inmate wife support groups and am even an administrator on one! That’s pretty cool but the thing that strikes me the most is just generally how much better I have been feeling since making connections with more folks in the same boat as me. I feel more optimistic than ever before and also significantly less isolated which is a pretty huge deal for me. I’m officially a member of TIFA (Texas Inmate Fsmilies Association) and through them I have been able to send some Christmas cards to inmates who have no one and that has made me feel really good too. I helped coordinate a Christmas card exchange between the wives and girlfriends in one of my groups and am just feeling incredibly in the holiday spirit because of the sense of community and belonging I feel. Some of the wonderful ladies praise me for my support and I’m grateful for the accolades but keep telling them that I am the one who is blessed by having found them and the opportunity to know them! As a survivor, it gets pretty lonely in my little world and I feel so much more liberated than I have felt in a long time.

I’ll be attending TIFA’s monthly meeting this evening and will have the opportunity to meet some of these women in the flesh as well as share some more holiday cheer with Texas inmates via our Christmas card initiative. I’m so excited I can hardly stand it!

I guess to summarize, I am feeling more than fortunate this season, despite our present predicament with him being gone and my ongoing hunt for new icing arrangements. I feel more equipped to handle the normal curveballs of life and that is a sensation that money simply cannot buy.

So thank you, everyone. Old friends and new, and even those of you I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting: thank you for being you and for making this world a better place simply by being. I am grateful beyond words for you and consider you to be a blessing of the truest and purest kind.

A very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to each and every one of you. May this season bring as much fortune and blessings as it has brought me!

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A finely tuned, carefully honed plan is one of my strongest addictions. I feel damn near omnipotent when I marvel at the finely crafted fruit of my labors. Whether it be time management, budgeting or work flow, I like to have an order of operations for everything. I feel like I am in control and sitting in the driver’s seat with a plan, and I also feel better equipped to handle curve balls and unforeseen variables that inevitably arise in every facet of life, whether it be an urgent matter at the office that needs attending, or a slow leak in a tire that needs patching before it grows into a bigger problem. When I have a plan in place, these things are almost anticipated, though the form they will take is not usually known to me before it happens.

One such plan was my living arrangements. In May 2014, I was approved for my first lease since moving state side. I signed on the dotted line and initialed at least two dozen pages and moved into what I call home that weekend. I was new to Dallas, and my new home was just a short commute to my place of employment. It isn’t the best neighborhood, but it definitely isn’t the worst either. It would definitely suit my needs, at the very least for the 9 month term of my lease.

We are now in December of 2014, and I have received multiple notices regarding the quick approach of renewal time. The first had increased rates that steadily decreased as the length of the terms increased. Last week, I received a “holiday special” notice suggesting that if I renewed my lease for any term by 12/15, my rate would remain the same. I was planning on renewing, but I wanted to find out about the policy on upgrading to the next size up whenever one became available either on my floor or above me, and whether that would be a breech of contract or whether they would work with me etc. My husband had also suggested that I offer to sign the longest lease they have if they give me the bigger unit at my current rate. I was going to discuss all of this with them this coming Monday or Tuesday, as I have those days booked off from work for my finals anyway, and would be around during their business hours. In fact, I was in the leasing office on Monday this week to pick up a package that had been too big for the mail man to put in my mail slot, and while there, I advised the manager that I wasn’t ignoring them, and that I would be in to speak with them next week regarding my renewal. (Unbeknownst to them, I had also planned to discuss the possibility of my husband paroling to this address in the future. If that were to happen, they’d be getting $600+/month from us for the foreseeable future. Steady income is steady income, amirite?)

We are now Wednesday, and I have been to my weekly counseling appointment, and would ordinarily be in class now, however I finished all my course work for my first class this evening, and am not due in my second class until 7. I opted to come home, relax, shower, etc. Well, much to my annoyance I arrived home to find a piece of paper stuck in my door. This piece of paper says there will be mandatory inspections of the units randomly selected by the inspectors tomorrow, and to please have my unit available. Of the 4 doors on my floor, mine was the only one with this paper stuck in it.

Let me step back for a moment and explain why this is an issue for me:

Approximately six weeks ago, we all received a similar notice, citing some bullshit about the city requiring annual inspections. This one, however, said all units would be inspected over the next 72 hours. Now, I have two small dogs, and I live 60 miles away from all my family in the area. Making arrangements for my dogs is easier said than done, especially during the week as I work full time and attend class almost full time as well. I called the rental office first thing the next morning and advised them of my situation and said that I would be more than happy to come home and handle my animals if they would just give me an hour or so notice. The reply to this was “we are not able to schedule time, and the inspectors are out already and may have already hit your unit.” …. Hit my unit? Did I miss a memo where I was mixed up in a fucking heist movie? Furthermore, I am a trauma survivor. I suffer from PTSD and acute anxiety. The prospect of anyone entering my sanctuary, with all my things and my dogs, unescorted, sent me into full blown panic mode. So much so that the following day I was home with a migraine. I called the office first thing in the morning and told them I was there and asked if they would please come do the inspection, since I was here and could take care of the dogs. I told them I would be home until 2pm, before I had to go to my appointment. I spoke with them repeatedly throughout the day, and each time she told me they’d be along, and then when I called (at her request) before I left for my appointment, I was placed on hold for several moments before she came back on the line, advised me that they were finished with the inspections and had everything they needed, as well as thanked me for my cooperation. …. Mandatory inspection, by the city, of all units eh? Well, I guess I’m special. Or they were just trying to get into specific units. Whatever.

So now, back to the topic at hand. I feel like I have been singled out for this inspection and after the fiasco before, I’m not inclined to bend over backwards for these people. My dogs will remain loose and I will leave a note with my number. They can call me if they want in here. Otherwise, I cordially invite them to piss off.

Furthermore, as a result of this one piece of paper stuck in my door, the absolute best they can hope for is a six month renewal. If the stars align and allow, I will give my 30 days notice at the end of this month and be gone before February. If the stars don’t align, I will sign a 6 month lease renewal, and then be gone at income tax return time next year. They can shove the larger unit up their asses and they can have this little one back in relatively short order.

Aside from all of this shit and the personal elements, let me tell you why else this pisses me off. I mentioned this was not the nicest part of town. It’s cleaned up a lot in recent years, I’m told, but it still has a long way to go. In this complex specifically, I guestimate that roughly one third to one half of the residents get up and take our asses to work every day. The rest are here all day long and basically leech off the system. That being said… why in the FUCK are you going to harass and alienate one of your tenants that doesn’t party, that doesn’t have people over, that pays rent on time every time, and that doesn’t cause problems?? And for what? Probably nothing. I will never understand the logic (or lack there of) of some people.

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Whatever, it’s their loss. No skin off my back. I’ll be taking my little caravan shit show someplace else. Thank you and have a nice day.

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Fair warning… this post was written to kill time before counseling and I am exhausted. Three cheers for insomnia!!

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I think it’s kind of funny how the older we get and the more we experience, the more our priorities and elements of stress change. There was a time really not that long ago when the biggest worry I had was whether I was going to be able to make an appearance at more than one social event, or what to wear or even whether our guild raid was going to be successful in new content or not. I didn’t really care about bills and if I didn’t make good grades it wasn’t the end of the world. There was always next semester. Nothing really was that urgent. On the flip side of this concept, our motivation changes so drastically too.

As an adult, I’ve always been a little anxious. My performance and punctuality at work have been a high priority for me. I’ve also been very neurotic about paying bills on time every time and just generally making sure all the little moving parts of my calendar day, month or year were attended to at any given time. I would get a little too worked up if I missed something.

Now, since I’ve been through trauma which, as a domino effect, destroyed my credit, my values and outlook are similar in some ways but drastically different in others. I still need to keep my schedule and I still need to get my bills paid, but I’m not motivated by a clean credit score so much as by the simple success of remembering everything. Having sustained a head injury, to say that I am forgetful is the understatement of the century. Any month where I don’t receive a past due notification is cause for relatively tame celebration. I don’t party at all anymore. I’d already grown out of it for the most part but after the events of last year, the only substances I partake in are nicotine and caffeine. I suppose I’ve evolved into an all or nothing kind of girl, in the grand scheme of things.

I still care about keeping my performance and punctuality up between both work and school but I think I’ve passed the point of relating to high school kids or true college freshmen in that I have no “there’s always next semester” mentality. I don’t like kill myself over deadlines but they matter to me. I keep a detailed electronic calendar to ensure I am apprised of all of my obligations and due dates. I really don’t remember a time where I didn’t care if I passed or failed, and my professors have commented that their evening classes and day time classes are as different as they can be. The noon time students cut class and miss deadlines with much more frequency than the evening students. It blows my mind to think about, considering college isn’t free in this country. Somebody is paying for them to be there. Why bother if it doesn’t matter to them?

I’m motivated to do the best I can in all of my classes because it tells me I am not permanently damaged. It tells me I am capable of not only performing, but performing well. I don’t think I would like it if I had to repeat a class.

I’m also motivated by the thought of life after prison. I’m not so naive that I think it is going to be easy, but I do see the potential for it to be good and worth the wait. I take pride in the lifestyle I have worked so hard for that is blessedly drug free and having accomplished this much on my own, I have faith that my man will be able to follow suit. I know he is proud of me for how far I have come in this last 18 months. I really can’t wait for him to become an active factor in this new, positive life.

Having gone without, in part due to my own choices but also due to lack of choice on my part, I find that there is so much in life that I am thankful for. Every ugly thing that has happened in my life has taught me over and over to varying degrees to not take anything for granted, especially the little things. This last is a topic for another post once I am more rested and possessing more coherent thoughts.

All in all, I’m in a pretty good place and while I worry somewhat about exams next week, I feel positive that I’ll make the grades I want. That’ll be another notch or two on the ‘I did that’ list. I’ll take it!!

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This is another paper I wrote for my English composition class. I share now because the topic of recidivism and addiction came up today. This paper was also written in MLA format.

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A disease, according to Merriam-Webster, is defined as “an illness that affects a person, animal, or plant; a condition that prevents the body or mind from working normally” (p1). Additionally, addiction, as defined by the National Institute on Drug Abuse is “a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences.” (“The Essence of Drug Addiction.” p7). The link between the two words is plain to see. Yet America, as a nation, does not treat addiction as a disease. Instead, it is punished, swiftly and indiscriminately, as a crime. The symptoms of the disease are simply suppressed by the system. Drug offences alone were accountable for over half of the population in federal prisons in this country in 2013, per the U.S. Department of Justice Statistics Bulletin (15). For the sake of perspective, the Federal Correctional system housed 193,775 prisoners, serving sentences longer than one year, and 98,200 of those were for drug convictions alone. (16).

How does that look at the state level? According to the same source, of the 1,314,900 inmates sentenced at the state level in 2013, only 16% of those were sentenced for drug convictions. (Table 13, page 15.) The stark contrast here has to do with some states softening the penalties for low-level drug offenses, while others are somewhat more lenient with regards to parole violations (i.e. they do not necessarily get sent straight back to prison upon their first violation, depending on the nature of it.) Nevertheless, it is incredibly alarming as to why there is such a massive difference between the federal correctional system and the state systems within the same country. How can this be explained?

The nature of drug crimes insofar as convictions are concerned, can be broken down into subcategories: possession, delivery/trafficking and manufacturing. Each carries varying degrees of severity, depending on the specific details of each case. What the typical census fails to consider is the drug related element of non-drug convictions. As mentioned earlier, addiction describes compulsive need for a substance. Alan I. Leshner, Ph.D., the Director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse within the National Institute of Health describes it perfectly:

“Drug craving and the other compulsive behaviors are the essence of addiction. They are extremely difficult to control, much more difficult than any physical dependence. They are the principal target symptoms for most drug treatment programs. For an addict, there is no motivation more powerful than a drug craving. As the movie “Trainspotting” showed us so well, the addict’s entire life becomes centered on getting and using the drug. Virtually nothing seems to outweigh drug craving as a motivator. People have committed all kinds of crimes and even abandoned their children just to get drugs.” (“The Essence of Drug Addiction.” p8.)

The science behind this has been performed. It is a widely accepted fact that addiction is a disease. Upon further consideration, it is clear to see that if America as a country was more widely inclined to address the illness itself, rather than the current method of staunching the symptoms, there is a very real and attainable possibility that crime of all kinds will decrease.

America is certainly on the trailing edge of implementing these findings. The Netherlands, for example, has systems in place where soft drugs such as marijuana are accessible in a safe, legal environment, where the users of such substances (young or infrequent especially) are not necessarily exposed to the harder, more volatile drugs, such as heroin and cocaine. Furthermore, in various European countries, there are safe rooms in place where addicts of hard drugs are free to go and use their drugs in peace, with medical supervision and clean needles. (“Denmark’s ‘Fix Rooms’ Give Drug Users a Safe Haven. P6.” This carries multiple social benefits: these addicts are not littering public streets with refuse and dirty needles, and the Netherlands has all but eliminated HIV transmission through drug injection while also boasting the lowest rate of problem drug use in all of Europe. (“…Look to the Dutch. P11.) There is more to it still: the coffee shops where the marijuana can be purchased, generate a staggering amount of revenue annually while the citizens are not strapped with criminal records for non-violent, minor drug offences, since fewer arrests are made. . (“…Look to the Dutch. P4.) The end result is a much cleaner, much more prosperous society. Some believe more lenient law enforcement would lead to an increase in drug use. For the Netherlands, this was not the case. . (“…Look to the Dutch. P5.)

Ultimately, the mentality behind policy in the Netherlands is that different substances carry different risks, the contrary of America’s stance, wherein all drugs are equally as hazardous and criminal. The pros most certainly outweigh the cons, and there are so many examples made overseas that America should follow. More leniency with low level offences has the potential to reduce recidivism, in that minor offenders would not be subject to felonies that make it exponentially more difficult to attain gainful employment, which contributes in and of itself to the alarming prison overcrowding issue in the United States. If we were to delve further into the issue, and take steps to identify those in the ranks of America’s incarcerated, who are addicted to hard drugs, such as methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and all the incarnations thereof, and take steps to treat their conditions as the disease it is, crime rates would drop exponentially. The addict mind drives otherwise good and decent people to alarming lengths to feed their addiction. Breaking and entering, theft, robbery, grand theft, and even some of the more violent crimes, are examples of some of the radical lengths an addict will go to in order to pacify his or her demons.

Imagine then if, as a society, we took steps to exorcise those particular demons. What, then, is left? The human condition dictates that there will always be some crime. The alarming numbers of men and women that fill both state and federal penitentiaries would dramatically decrease if, as a people, we took one of the more common variables off the table. Progress is progress. Consider as well, how many families living below the poverty line might have a fighting chance if their finances were not dictated by the need for a fix. Though times are still hard, in light of the recession, the black mark of a felony conviction on the background of non-violent men and women make it that much more difficult to find gainful employment. It is a vicious cycle: addiction, crime, incarceration, release without treatment for the disease, struggle to reintegrate back into the free world, inability to find work, relapse under stress or necessity of subsidizing income, crime, incarceration. This is the reality for an unacceptably large number of Americans.

The system is broken, but it is not beyond repair. The United States of America should follow the lead of more progressive countries like The Netherlands and treat the disease. Without the disease rampant and out of control, the symptoms will become irrelevant. Treat the disease; stop suppressing the symptoms.

Works Cited:

Carson, E. Ann, Ph.D. “Prisoners in 2013.” U.S. Department of Justice – Bureau of Justice Statistics Bulletin. Sept. 2014. Web PDF. 12 Oct. 2014.

Leshner, Alan I. Ph.D. “The Essence of Addiction.” National Institute on Drug Abuse. March, 2001. Web. 12 Oct. 2014.

Malinowska-Sempruch, Kasia. “For Safe and Effective Drug Policy, Look to the Dutch.” Global Drug Policy Program. Open Society Foundations. July 16, 2013. Web.

Merriam-Webster. An Encyclopedia Britannica Company. Web. 12 Oct 2014.

Overgaard, Sidsel. “Denmark’s ‘Fix Rooms’ Give Drug Users A Safe Haven.” Parrallels: Many Stories, One World. 16 Dec 2013. Web. 12 Oct. 2014.