Life In Prison

Rainy Day in Dublin

I went to breakfast this morning and stood in line behind the same inmate that got angry about her laundry spot being taken last week. She laid into a kitchen officer because they ran out of the bread she likes causing me to shake my head.  The incident made me realize that I was pretty unfair in my last post.  First, I don’t really know the details and relied on second hand information.  I don’t know if the officer threatened the inmate or not because I didn’t personally hear him talk to her. Second, the officer may have handled the situation wrong but his intentions were good.  The inmate is loud and disrespectful much of the time and the officers are only human, we don’t live in a perfect environment.  There are always two sides to every situation and I don’t want to be guilty of considering only one side.

I felt like the legal process that I experienced was unfair and I felt misunderstood.  When I sat down to eat with one of my friends that works for our maintenance crew she told me that she and her co-workers went into our unit yesterday to fix beds.  Several of the inmates figured out how to cut the springs on the beds in their rooms so they wouldn’t have to have a room mate.  She told me that one of the inmates has done this several times and that it was the third bed they’ve had to fix because of the trickery.  The last time a counselor had a CMS (Maintenance) crew come in to fix her bed she got angry and had several women in our unit write complaints accusing the counselor of sexual misconduct.  There are times I get disappointed in my fellow inmates and the “games” that go on.

One of the things that I really like here is that we use everything, nothing goes to waste.  When I arrived I wondered why things were so old and outdated.  It seemed like we were back in the sixties with our computer systems and exercise equipment.  I thought, “Let’s get people to donate the stuff they don’t use anymore in the free world, our stuff here is archaic.” But as time passes I find it very appealing to re-use things rather than get new stuff.  We fix things here, we recover old exercise equipment, we replace parts on old exercise bikes, nothing goes to waste. They gave us a box lunch a while back that had a plastic zip lock bag with lunch meat in it. We were all excited to get the zip lock bag because they are so useful.  (The lunch meat left much to be desired:) In the free world life is about upgrade to the latest and greatest, from cars to computers and phones.  The up and coming younger generation seems smarter and faster.  I like the minimalist lifestyle in prison, and I think maybe the fast paced go go attitude that society has adopted is causing us to forget what’s really important. There is wisdom in age, older things are okay with me.

I went to walk on the track this morning and it was raining hard so I thought that I was alone.  As I rounded the corner of our track a woman that I know from our 12-step group was pouring her heart out in prayer.  I felt bad that I interrupted her so I went to sit under the covered weight pile to give her some privacy and the woman came to sit with me and asked how I was doing? I told her that I was doing fine. Sometimes I think, “No one really cares how anyone else is doing, people are so caught up in their own troubles.”  This woman was very kind and really seemed to care how I was. She asked,  “How’s your husband doing?” I told her that Chad is a hero, and that he’s doing great!  She asked about each of my children by name or age and when she got to CJ she said, “How’s your sweet little 8 year old doing?” I tried to answer but became too emotional to talk. I looked at her with tears in my eyes and said, “She is such an angel sweet friend, I miss her presence in my life so much!” She was quiet a minute then said, “Portia I was just praying because I love the rain. I told God  that I need to hear roaring thunder because I’m hurting right now. A still small voice just won’t do.”  As I got up to walk in the gym lightning lit up the gray early morning sky.  I smiled because I saw the lightning too.  We’re lucky to have made so many mistakes and still have those we love care for us so much in our vulnerability. I told my friend that my family has been amazing and that I have so many people who have loved and supported me in many ways and currently through my blog. My former lawyer John Markham has flown out here on his own dime because he wants to help. I told her that I know my lawyer cares about our family, but more importantly he cares deeply about upholding the law. He is a dedicated advocate who believes the justice system failed me and wants to help.  Being in prison gives me the opportunity to see the good in others. We are all so very dependent here. My friend thanked me for sharing with her and we went our separate ways when they opened the yard.  It’s not the big things that matter most but the little things. My talk with a fellow sister inmate changed my whole morning and how grateful I am for a loving Father in Heaven who walks with me each day in Federal prison.

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