Sunday, November 30, 2014

#50 - Schooled by Inmates (Journal Entries Through January 12, 2014)

I woke up this morning to the usual ding, ding, ding, ding wake up call, flushing toilets, and my 5 word pep talk to start out the day, "Wake up and be different."  Lots of talk about the delicious danish and milk for breakfast.  The girls say they have died and gone to Heaven with the food in here.  The inmates that cook do a really good job with their rations of ingredients for the month, but it was too sweet for me and I didn't finish it.  I went to get my CD player to listen to some music to get me in the Sunday mood, but my CD player won't read any of the CD's.  I'm hoping Rachel can help me figure it out when she wakes up.  It spins and spins, and then blinks 'No Disc.'  Just when I thought it would be great to have my own music, my CD player doesn't work.  I come from a line of box-savers that will keep all packaging in case something doesn't work right.  Now my packaging is going out with the trash from the property room and my CD player doesn't work.  Sigh. 

I have a couple girls that have been staying up with me in the mornings.  They are ones that aren't fans of the drama and they appreciate the quiet mornings.  Plus, they've learned that the TV isn't occupied in the mornings when all the rest of the girls go back to sleep after breakfast.  I was hesitant to make a request, but since my CD player isn't working, I asked if I could listen to a CD in the DVD player instead.  I haven't asked for any TV time, other than to listen to a few songs on my Hilary Weeks CD yesterday.  They both said that would be great, so I stuck in The Piano Guys CD.  

Who knew that jail walls could have such good acoustics?  From the very first note played, I got goosebumps.  Sawyr has become quite the fan of The Piano Guys after hearing them at school and I thought, "Sawyr would love the sound of them in here!"  Oh wait, I'm in jail.  I don't want my 9 year old here next to me to hear this.  It's an awful feeling to be in a place that I would never want any of my other family members to be with me.  

About half way through the first song (above), Sister came to the edge of the railing upstairs, sleepy-eyed and groggy.  She's usually very opinionated and voices her wants loudly, coming across pretty self-centered.  If something is bugging her, she'll yell from her bunk in colorful language, not bothering to get up to talk to anyone about it, but expecting that everyone will make changes for her.  I worried that I had the music up too loud.  She said, "What is this?!"  I told her that it was my CD of The Piano Guys and asked if we needed to turn it down.  She just said, "Maybe a little bit.  But I like it.  I'll listen to it later."  Then she turned and went back to bed.  What?!  Not only did she not yell from her bunk to turn it down, but she actually came out of her cell to find out what it was.  

Good Morning Sunday!  I'm ready for the day with The Piano Guys, church service soon, and visitors this afternoon!  


We are expected to have our cells tidy and our beds made if we are not laying in them.  When I was a teenager, my mom would have loved for me to have my bed made every morning like hers was.  I decided that it was much easier to sleep on top of my tidy bed, with a blanket to cover myself up with.  That's the idea I've reverted to in here.  I have compassion for Sawyr now when I ask him to make his bed on the top bunk.  It's a lot of work to make a bed when you actually have to be on it while you're making it.  I've reverted to keeping my bed made and just sleeping under my red fuzzy blanket so all I have to do is fold it at the foot of my bed when I wake up.  Plus it makes it easier to keep my stuff separate from jail stuff.  We bleach mop our floor and clean our cell every day, but it still creeps me out.  You never know what's happened or what's touched the bed, ladder, or floor.  


For scriptures this morning I came across a verse that says, "And now, I do not know all things; but the Lord knowth all things which are to come; wherefore, he worketh in me to do according to his will."  

Maybe it explains some reason I'm supposed to be here.  I just have to keep the faith that God knows I'm here and is counting on me to be strong when I need to be and tender when those around me need to be.  It's a hard order to fill. 
There are lots of different ways to learn and understand about Jesus Christ and his gospel.  Maybe it happens in a church, during a conversation with a friend, with a neighbor, through reading, on TV, by meeting with missionaries, or a million other ways.  Today the thought came to me that our church missionaries wouldn't be aloud in here, but that the Lord should send someone for these women.  

Or is that me?  I have gotten to know them and love them.  I try to understand and have compassion.  I am glad it's not my job to judge them or decide what their motives are.  (Do they have alternative motives?  Are they really my friends?  Will they stay true to the changes they are making once they are out or when I'm not here?)  Being strong for myself is the easy part.  If that were the case, I could huddle in my cell 24/7 and do just fine.  But that's way too easy to go through this experience and keep to myself.  Whatever good I have to share, is meant to be shared.  I just don't feel adequate.  Heck, the strongest 'addiction' I can relate to is chocolate and that hardly compares to meth!  The good news is, I don't have to go through what they have, to have compassion and carry the spirit with me.  


At our church service today, we talked about Adam and Eve and their sons Cain and Abel.  Most of the lesson was focused on Cain - the evil brother that killed his brother Abel.  It was about how Cain's descendants, even though they came from evil pasts, prospered and were productive, mostly in worldly importance.  The pastor compared it to a Val Kilmore movie where there's always a 'being' lurking in the darkness.  He talked about how we always have to be on the move and lookout for the evil around us.  I didn't feel that good, uplifting feeling I was hoping to leave with. 

After we left, Karen made the comment to me that the whole lesson was exactly how addicts feel - there's always 'something' on their tail.  It could be their conscience, or someone wanting drug money, or the cops, or the temptation of it all if they try to give it up.  "Always lurking in the shadows," was the phrase the pastor used.  As we talked, Karen said it was the exact opposite of how she felt when the bishop laid his hands on her head and gave her a blessing.  She said it was pure brightness and uplifting, like she could conquer the world.  I don't know that she would have seen the contrast before.

Although both experiences of the church service and Karen's blessing were good, it's about where the focus is.  Do we focus on the negative or the positive?  It is too easy to fall into the trap of fear or worry or 'what if' or the thought of failure.  By this point in our Bryer-adventure, I have a strong testimony that it takes a conscience choice to choose the good.  It's not that the fear goes away, but learning to accept that if we have faith then it will turn out just has Heavenly Father has planned for us - even if that means I sit here in jail stripes.  I don't think He makes bad things happen, but He allows adversity in our lives to help us grow stronger, to help us see our potential to overcome any temptation or adversity that comes up against us.  He has way bigger plans than what is confined to the walls of this jail.  In the meantime, His comforting spirit comes through music, or a verse of scripture that's particularly meaningful, or a thought that comes to my mind.  It's goosebumps when I get asked to pray or a smile that creeps across my face when I see one of these girls making changes for the better.  His spirit is what I feel when I am in this awful situation of serving time in jail, all for a medical misdiagnosis.


Today is visiting day, which means those that are getting a visitor (very few) 'get ready.'  I sat at one of the metal tables while one of the other inmates braided my hair for the visit.  Sister rattled on a long sentence with cussing every other word.  I have almost become immune to it by now, but Rachel elbowed her and said, "Don't talk that way around Krissi!"  Sister said, "Why?  I can talk however I want!"  One of the other girls kind of snickered and said, "What Krissi, you don't cuss or what?"  I could tell she thought Rachel was kidding.  I sensed all eyes turning to me - like all the music played and then coming to a record-scratching halt while they waited for my answer.  I said, "Nope, I don't swear," kind of surprised that I have spent 11 days now with these girls total and most of them hadn't caught on.  Another piped in, "Like you don't swear ever?"  I laughed and said, "Well, if I stub my toe or drop a glass plate, I might say 'Oh crap!'"  About this point, I was half way wishing Rachel wouldn't have said anything and half way realizing this was a way to make my standards known.  I shot her a 'Thanks a lot' look and she smiled back at me and shrugged her shoulders.  A few of them were intrigued with this whole way of life without cuss words - like maybe I would have some speech limitations if I couldn't fully express myself.  Finally Netty broke in and said, "I think it's good!...  Ya, good for you!"  I was relieved when all the attention wasn't on me anymore. 

The whole rest of the day Twinny would correct her words when she would slip.  Then she found replacements like mother trucker and flip and I tried not to smirk every time I heard a replacement.  These are inmates.  Like hard criminals.  They've dealt drugs, broken in to homes, stolen money, hurt other people - they've known no bounds of breaking the law - and now they watch their language - for me?! 


One of my very favorite sights is to get called out for visitors and to see several of them in the lobby in their church clothes.  They look so put together, colorful, and happy-looking!  In my days of constant black and white, colored church clothes make me happy.  There were 7 of them in the lobby that I could see as I sat down at the stool and looked at them through the window.  My emotions are so conflicted to see 7 people for me, while the rest of the girls sit in the common area without any visitors.  6 of my guests took their turns during my 30 minute visit.  I was so encouraged to see one of my visitors head to the front counter and then see Karen come around the corner, called for a visit with my 7th visitor!  I would have happily given her all of them if it would have made a difference. 
It doesn't even matter what we talk about during our visit, I am just happy for the break and to see friendly faces and feel the refreshing, good spirit they bring with them. 

Karen told me later all the things she had in common with my friend.  This same girl with so much make up and revealing clothes I could have judged and passed by on the street, is the same that has so many things in common and I have grown to seriously love!  The Lord works in amazing ways! 


Rachel and I were cleaning our cell today.  She had wiped down the toilet and sink.  When she was done, I sprayed the mirror.  Some of the spray had fallen on the sink, so I wiped that down again and Rachel stopped me.  "Wait?!  Are you re-doing my work?"
I said, "No! I was just wiping up what I got on the sink after I sprayed the mirror!" 

We had a conversation about being a perfectionist and she encouraged me to be happy with the way my kids do their jobs.  Sometimes it's hard not to be hard on them or to re-make the beds, re-fold the towels, or re-vacuum the floor.  She said from her own experience, they will learn that the job they do is good enough and give them a feeling of accomplishment.  Was I better about this when there were only 1 or 2 kids with jobs?  Their sense of accomplishment and feeling 'good enough' should mean more than a neatly folded pile of towels or perfectly vacuumed floor.  A parenting tip from an inmate.  Yup, I'll take it. 


I called home this evening and talked to Jason and our four older kids.  Piper and I decided it would be better if I didn't talk to Bryer since she would wail when I had to say good-bye, so it was easier on Jason for me not to talk to her.  I got to hear how Hunter's scout merit badge clinic went and how Sawyr's Native American diorama project was presented.  It kills me to hear their sweet voices on the phone, but the worst was Walker's little 5-year-old voice! 

Walker: Hi Mom!  Where are you?
Me:  I'm still in jail bud.  Remember?
Walker: Oh ya, but did the police let you use their phone? 
Me: Yes, but I had to pay a lot of money to talk to you.  

As immune as I feel to the cussing, it bothers me all over again as I talk to my family on the phone.  I want to protect their ears and not let them know what I have to hear every day.  And as I answered Walker's questions, I sounded just like any of the other girls in here - explaining again to him where I am and how it is that I get to talk to him.  The phones are out in the open in the common area, so there's no privacy or quiet place to talk.  The worst feeling in here is when my 2 worlds collide and I feel my heart break all over again that I'm not at home with them, doing what I should be doing.


Tonight I learned to crochet a little better.  I made my mom an uneven washcloth, and I was ready for something else.  One of the girls got me going on a beanie.  She wrote out the pattern, showed me how to count stitches, and how to use a crochet marker.  It's been a while since I had to really concentrate on making something and I was feeling confident in the challenge.  Just as I thought I had finished the first part, I had the other inmate check my stiches.  She eyed them closely and counted them and then proceeded to pull the yarn out, undoing my hour's worth of work in a matter of a few seconds.  She told me to do it again, and count better this time.  Then she made eye contact with me and realized she had pretty much broke my heart and just patted my shoulder and said, "Oh quit!  You can do better than that!"  Sigh.  Being humbled by another inmate! 

I took it back to my cell and spent another hour getting it just right, following the pattern perfectly.  It still didn't resemble anything like a beanie.  In fact, it was closer to the size of a coaster.  I was so frustrated that I decided to quit while I was ahead and just use it for a coaster.  I tied it off and cut the yarn off using the sharp edge of the bunk bed.  I went down to show my crocheting tutor, disappointed that I hadn't made a beanie, but excited at my coaster.  She took one look at it and said, "What the *** is this?  Where's the rest of it?"  I explained my frustration, but being okay that it was just going to be a coaster.  She said, "NO!  All you have to do is stitch singles after that to make it into a beanie!"  This time it was her looking disappointed.  She gave me thicker yarn to practice with so that I could see my progress sooner and not quit so easy.  I never saw a lesson coming from an inmate about perseverance!  :-) 


Tonight as I got ready for bed, I reached for the light switch to the side of the cell door.  And then I immediately felt silly - there are no light switches in here!  I went to sleep early tonight, to the sound of playing cards being shuffled and the TV up way too loud.  I'm glad I sleep hard! 

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