Tequilatudes


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Tough

When you elect to put things out there the price has to be paid. Writers are not exempt from this fact.

Many of you reading this now, are writers and you may identify with this.

My recent posts received the following feedback today in the form of a text. Respectfully, I want to address the very real nature of this entire experience including what it is like to hear real things that may make a writer take a step back from the keyboard and think.

” [You] were just not writing to your audience. …if someone else wrote it, I’d assume they were going for comedy via irony. However, since I know you were serious & this was coming from your heart & soul…”

The nature of the feedback was that the posts were a self pity diary.

After feelings of defensiveness, second guessing and evaluation …my response is…”OK.”

It was, what it was.

For me to say, to write, to pretend that during times of trouble that I did not succumb to feeling overwhelmed or sorry for myself would be to lie.

The passages are as real as my heart beat. It marks the steps and missteps of my human experience. For ugly or funny or cute or pathetic …it denotes the realities of life.

The stories are not all told, the day is not over and my life is still going on.

The truth, (shrug) sometimes I’m tough and sometimes I’m not. But there is always, my friends, hope for tomorrow. ;)

Cheers.


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sketchy

I had no idea when I was going to be let out of cell number 5.

I had been on the verge of expecting to be moved for hours. I wasn’t sure as the evening progressed to early hours of the next morning if I would be released from that room or if others were going to join me un expectedly. I didn’t know how comfortable to make myself. I didn’t know anything, so I made up the rules for my expectations as I went along.

When I was served dinner, it came with a little Styrofoam cup of water. I remember that water being delicious and so so cold. I sipped it through the night and made sure that it was safe from being accidentally knocked over by my feet when I slept on the bench.

The water was precarious as I knew at some point I was going to have to use the bathroom.  This was something I was avoiding to HAVE to do. Feeling desperate for any reason in this place was something I was going to avoid at any cost.

The window in the cell door obviously had no privacy shade and as varied as you can imagine, the intake to a prison has a varied sort of people coming through.

Most are curious enough to glance in, I noticed this when I was sitting at the far part of the bench looking out and watching people look in.

I saw male guards, police officers, male prisoners in a variety of different color uniforms. It was like a grand central station for the great kingdom of Lock Up.  I was going to be dammed if that little cup of water was going to make me pee in front of any of them.  I decided to choose my time wisely, a point where the “lobby” was empty of “visitors”.

I felt this process of “peek and go pee” was dehumanizing for me. I felt huffy about the whole thing like I was some old lady in a Jane Austen movie. I felt determined that I was going to do this as dignifiedly as possible.

Once, I even did it in the spirit of rebellion. OH yea. I’m getting hardened now.  A real rebel – who forgot to first ask the guard for toilet paper.

“what-the-fuck-ever” I thought. As I scrambled to the “welcome bag” a guard gave me at check in and rummaged for a kotex pad that would have to do in the place of TP.  The little sink did not have soap, so I rummaged through the bag again and produced the body/hair soap bottle I was given and washed my hands.

During this process I don’t know if I was talking (cursing) to myself, but shortly after I had completed this mission and settled back to my place on the bench looking narrowly out the window at the clock, that a guard came by with a full roll of TP for me.

I had unpacked the whole “grooming kit” I was provided and brushing my teeth and using a tiny comb to fix my hair back in a decent pony tail. I asked her when she slid the door open, how long she expected me to be in intake.

It was 2 AM. She looked exasperated on my behalf and explained she had been calling medical to come down and check me in for hours and when they were not busy, I would be called. I nodded.

Medical? That’s …interesting. Ok. I wrote about this all in my book. About 10 mins later, she opened the door and told me to get my things and come out into the lobby. I gathered the blanket, the pen and the book and threw it into the bag I was given.  I also tossed in the roll of TP.

While in the little cell, I felt more polished after fixing myself, stepping outside into the lobby, I felt disgusting and disgruntled.  I was haggard from sleeping and not sleeping and grimy just from the surroundings of feeling crowded. My hair was jacked up and though I tried to make it decent… nothing helped much.

I was told to sit in a chair against the far wall near a desk. Two nurses were asking me questions. One asked if I could provide a urine sample. The other told her I had just went. I’m thinking this public peeing thing is a whole lot more public than I realized, they weren’t even in the lobby when all of that happened.

As I am answering medical questions, there is a barrage of inmates that enter the area, males and females, my solitary cell 5 was now being filled with so many women that there was standing room only. One was yelling for the guard that she had to go to the bathroom and needed TP. I had taken the roll.

Normally, I would have excused myself from the nurse and giggled and said I had it and gave it to the person. But this was prison, not a church potluck. I turned my head from the cell of inmates and decided to let the guard deal with it.

Several officers were in the intake area as well. One was tall and about my age and in another time or another place…I would have found him very attractive. He had big wolf-blue eyes, and strong hands and a strong but gentle demeanor. I noticed him when the nurse asked me the first question, and I spoke.

He looked up and looked straight at me as if he had heard something weird or different. While how I looked now, was very inmate, I can only assume the intonation and words I use to speak is what sounded like maybe I was different, that I didn’t “belong” there, that jail was new for me… that maybe, I sounded like a real person. Our eyes met and I smiled instinctively but I smiled very small. I quickly looked down and tucked some mystery hair back behind my ear.

I hadn’t realized until that moment, that I was missing from myself. I wasn’t a girl here. I wasn’t a normal person. I was a criminal. I was not an equal.

I answered my questions and anxious to get away from the room and the feeling of not being female anymore. I told the nurse if I had a more private place use the restroom, that I would give her that sample. She allowed me an empty private cell away from the bustle of the lobby.  I came out of the cell with the sample. The whole time I was praying that the man who reminded me of what I am not at this moment, was no longer within sight.

 

 

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4 months before conviction

Walgreens – 11 Am – average Tuesday:

Self importantly I blaze past my friend and head to the drink section and mutter back at her in an annoyed and hushed voice.

” Look. People don’t want to see ugly. People don’t like ugly people. And people definitely don’t like ugly situations.” I said to her venomously.

Nichole sped up and expecting my tone on the topic, responded “All I am saying, is write your feelings down. Write the story, you don’t know who it may help. It will help you.”

I stopped abruptly and turned to her in a whisper and scathing look, “When all you’ve got is an ugly situation raring around inside of you, It’s easy to think, that people, don’t like you. So to tell me, that I’m going to tell a story that I know is ugly, is so futile… It is STUPID. What am I going to say? I would be writing random shit for no reason. Because I know, no one is going to want to hear it. Especially me!”

“When,” she blocked me from the refrigerator door I was reaching for to get a soda. “WHEN are you going to stop feeling sorry for yourself and see the reality. It was one shitty night. It was what…a long time ago…”

” Five months ago,” I mutter.

She grabs my arm emphatically, “FIVE MONTHS AGO. Wow it has been awhile. It was one shitty, stupid night that is farther in the past with every day. When are you going to leave it there?”

I look past her and she moves to open the door to the cooler and gets out a Pepsi Max for each of us. “Nichole, it’s not over yet.” I said and took the sodas from her.

“You are doing everything you have got to do. You are going through the steps. What is bad is you not living in the now.”

I just look at her with a look that says she is right, thank you and a nod that indicated if we keep going I may cry. “I. have. lost. everything.” I say to her through gritted teeth.

She grabbed the drinks from my hand and starts to the cash register, “Good. You needed new things.”

 

 

 

 

 

 


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mud

People don’t like ugly people.  People definitely don’t like ugly situations.  People don’t want to see ugly …and when all you’ve got is an ugly situation raring around inside of you, well, it feels like you are invisible. When you have enough ugly in you, you can almost see people glaze right over the unpleasant bits.

The cell door was yanked open by a guard. I shot up from sleep, disoriented, sniffly and tangled in the blanket they gave me. I looked at the guard waiting for instruction.  The guard looked away and in entered a woman in street clothes. The guard slid the door shut locking me in with the stranger.  I thought she might be new here considering the outfit of jean shorts and a red gingham top. Maybe she was on her way out? I wasn’t sure. I was still trying to wake up while gathering my blanket and book moving to the far corner of the bench.

The stranger was chatting away as if she knew me. Peppy, perky and talkative, this stranger lady looked more like a lil’ Abner cheerleader than a criminal. She headed straight for the toilet in the cell. I wasn’t quite sure what was going on, but I knew that I was going to figure it out while looking away and at the wall.

I iced over the potty situation as she spoke to me while she doing her business.

She told me she was leaving and driving three hours north and needed to go now. She said she had to turn herself in at another facility there. I finally had the courage to ask her what it was like in the real area of the prison. She said she was on “three” and it was okay and very loud. As she stood and washed her hand in the sink, she said that if I should find myself on “three” to look for a woman named Valorie and give her a message.

I looked right at this lady at this point, she looked back at me through the little mirror above the sink. She said if I found this woman to tell her that Latisha was able to transfer out. That this information would make this Valorie woman very happy and then the stranger turned to me and smiled, “she is a nice lady and needs a friend.” She said this in a way like she was happily making a referral to a waxer at a spa or something.

I nodded and said if I encountered her I would give her the message. Happily the stranger smiled at me and chatted more as she rapped on the door to get the gaurd’s attention. The door slid open, the stranger smiled at me and flittered out of the cell as quickly as she entered.

The guard did not look at me, I guess I am here for more time. The door slid shut. I peered at the clock through the cell door window. It’s past midnight now. I had been in here for seven hours.

And damn it if I had put my “bed” away, just to take it back out again. Good for me, that it was just a blanket on a concrete bench.

 


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what is time

Soon after arriving, I was told I get to “depart” this place at 8 AM on a Thursday.

I feel like I have already been here for mountains of time.

In reality it has just been 2.5 hours. It is now 7:35 pm. I arrived at 5 pm.
They fed us at I guess 5:30 pm. I got “dressed” around 7:20 pm. I am not a time person. I never wear a watch. I am always late. I hate rushing. I do not live by clocks or time. I am a slave at this minute to the second hand of a wall clock, that I can see from the window on the cell door. I am watching time like I never have before.

I have a pen. I have no paper. I was allowed one book. I am writing this in my book pages anywhere there is a space.

This miracle pen was from the car. I had been jotting something down and I guess stuck it in my bag of items I could bring.

I didn’t mean to bring it in because my attorney didn’t say I could bring one.
It is a stick pen, and the guard lady that “dressed” me said it was an approved item and tossed it back in with my things.

This is a miracle. “Thank you God,” I thought.

I heard a fight earlier, I guess 21 minutes ago. I am in admissions. I am in a solitary cell. Well a holding cell? I’m alone in here thank God. There is one long concrete bench against the wall in front of a toilet/sink combination. There is a sliding door with a big window. It is an open space, that from what I can tell is 7.5 feet by 10 feet and about 17 feet tall.

I am obsessing about numbers. Counting time, feet, inches… I am not sure why but the math is somehow entertaining or soothing or maddening.

I make myself a schedule while I am on this bench by 8 pm. If I sit with my back to the wall facing the door window, that is like watching TV. The middle section is facing the toilet and since dinner was not appetizing at the moment, this space will be for dining and meditation. The wall flush to the door, facing into the room would be the bed room. It was more private as I would not be so easily seen by the other inmates going through intake and I would be able to hear what was going on outside the door and wake up.

I didn’t put much thought into my “schedule” but it was amazing me the keen sense that starts to take over.


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creepy

I was in cell number 5 for a long time.

When you don’t know what you are waiting for. When you don’t know what will happen. Every moment you are literally trapped is echoing.

I was sitting against the wall flush to the door, the part of the bench I had designated for sleeping. I was sitting facing forward and staring at a flat metal panel against the wall. I wrote in my book when I realized what it was since it was a new discovery in an empty room that I had been sitting in for hours.

I realized the flat panel thing is a phone. It has a number pad and a speaker and a button that is for hanging up.I tried to use it to call home. The recording asked me for some calling collect pin number. I did not have one. I hung up the call and sat back down.

From the angle I was at, I could see that words were etched into the window glass. An eerie message from a past inmate.

“Death only the begging  Beginning”


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what is time

Soon after arriving, I was told I get to “depart” this place at 8 AM on a Thursday.

I feel like I have already been here for mountains of time.

In reality it has just been 2.5 hours. It is now 7:35 pm. I arrived at 5 pm.
They fed us at I guess 5:30 pm.
I got “dressed” around 7:20 pm.

I am not a time person. I never wear a watch. I am always late. I hate rushing.
I do not live by clocks or time.

I am a slave at this minute to the second hand of a wall clock, that I can see from the window on the cell door. I am watching time like I never have before.

I have a pen. I have no paper. I was allowed one book. I am writing this in my book pages anywhere there is a space.

This miracle pen was from the car. I had been jotting something down and I guess stuck it in my bag of items I could bring.

I didn’t mean to bring it in because my attorney didn’t say I could bring one.
It is a stick pen, and the guard lady that “dressed” me said it was an approved item and tossed it back in with my things.

This is a miracle. “Thank you God,” I thought.

I heard a fight earlier, I guess 21 minutes ago. I am in admissions. I am in a solitary cell. Well a holding cell? I’m alone in here thank God. There is one long concrete bench against the wall in front of a toilet/sink combination. There is a sliding door with a big window. It is an open space, that from what I can tell is 7.5 feet by 10 feet and about 17 feet tall.

I am obsessing about numbers. Counting time, feet, inches… I am not sure why but the math is somehow entertaining or soothing or maddening.

I make myself a schedule while I am on this bench by 8 pm. If I sit with my back to the wall facing the door window, that is like watching TV. The middle section is facing the toilet and since dinner was not appetizing at the moment, this space will be for dining and meditation. The wall flush to the door, facing into the room would be the bed room. It was more private as I would not be so easily seen by the other inmates going through intake and I would be able to hear what was going on outside the door and wake up.

I didn’t put much thought into my “schedule” but it was amazing me the keen sense that starts to take over.
image

Gate-Operators-Draper-Prison-Overhead-Trolley-Gate


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the clank

When I walked up to the guard shack to turn myself in, the little white trailer in the middle of a parking lot type thing seemed innocent enough. Any gate that surrounded it was open, the weather was hot but sunny.

I innocently walked to the door of the shack as if I was trick-or-treating or something. I see now, that I can be an idiot sometimes. A man jumped out of the shack and barked for me to get back. I never knew I could jump backwards. I can.

I advised I was, “checking in.” I smiled and held my Target bag out like a basket of muffins at a bake sale. My little satchel was full of supplies that were listed on the sheet my attorney provided me. My ” Jail Packing List.”

He said I was supposed to be there at 5 pm. I looked at him. It was 4:40 pm. He said be here at 5 pm. I retreat to the car and return at that time.

When I walked up this time, the weird little trailer was not alone in a parking lot. It was shrouded in angry gates, several little cages were closed up around it. There was no question where I was. He saw me and opened the first gate.

We talked for a minute. The contact was there. He was kind and helpful. We had normal conversation. I followed him. I took two steps into the first area and the gate shut behind me.

That noise.

The metal locking to metal of the gate. The instant fear. The desire to cry choked back and the want to look back but I walked a little stiffer as I followed him into the women’s detention center.


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a new name

Dressed and in my little cell. Number 5.

I’m in “admissions” or “intake” or what I called “the check-in area”.

I realize what it is like to be a dog.

I start to read my book and I looked at my dress uniform. It is blue and not orange like I thought it would be. Down my leg there is what appears to be white paint stains. Or white out?

I looked at the stain and smooth the wrinkled fabric around my knee and horrified I stare at it and it hits me. The pants are BLUE… like blue jeans…

My father, was a political prisoner in Cuba for 13 years. A time he never discusses except for the fact he never will wear a pair of blue jeans. He always said, he wore them enough for one life…in another life. I understand that HIS uniform must have been this type of blue. I am overwhelmed with a need to talk to my Dad.

I shake my head and glance down at my leg again, and it’s clear as day… the white is stenciled letters. Down my leg read my new identifier,

inmate

 


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the category of selfish writing: a sin and a confession

The new category is my prison diaries.

I’ve thought long and hard about how I was going to write about my recent adventure in hell.

How I was going to make it cute, or meaningful or hopeful…

I can’t find a wordy-ribbon long enough to tie this messy tale in a pretty bow.

All I can do, for my own selfish gain (of releasing this story) is share what I experienced and what I saw and just tell you what happened.

Didn’t a writer say we build our own prisons? Ironic that in an effort to get out of my mind, I tell you about my story and the bars…

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