Sunday, March 15, 2015

#65 - Cell Toss! (Journal from March 1-2, 2014)

I woke up this morning and the first thing my Bunkie said made my day.  "One more wake up kiddo and then you're out of here!"  I smiled at the thought of her calling me 'kiddo,' but also knowing that I would be home with my family soon.   


One of the girls had a question last night - What are the mushrooms called in Super Mario?"  When you want to know something in jail, they all say, "Check out," which really means ask the other girls. didn't know the answer, so she asked one of the guards.  He's a quiet guy and just shrugged his shoulders, I'm sure wondering why the name of a mushroom in a video game is even the least bit important. 

Just after lights out (which really are just dimmed, but that's better than the full lights like we've had), the guard's voice came over the loud speaker.  Usually when they use the loud speaker it's to tell one inmate to get off the lap of another, or to make sure they have their stripes on if they are in the common area (as opposed to their white or orange t-shirt).  He came over the loud speaker and said, "The mushrooms on Super Mario Bros. are called.......(suspense and waiting, so we could tell he was playing)...... Goombas!"  There were whoops and cheers from a few cells.   It made my bunkie and me laugh.  I don't think a person quite appreciates Google until they have gone without it. 


Today I saw my blog in print.  Maybe that shouldn't be weird, but it was.  Mostly because it wasn't me that brought it in.  And it wasn't sent to me - it was sent to Rachel by her mom.  It was a strange piece of home that I didn't bring in here and it carried a lot of mixed feelings.  My words were on the page.  The words I had transcribed from my journals and typed from the comfort of home on my computer.  And now these girls were reading it.  I had told Rachel about the blog, but I wasn't prepared to actually see it myself in here.  That line between home and jail is getting blurred again.  Can I share my 'real life' and still protect my family?  Can I share this jail experience with my family without all the negativity creeping into our home?  The line seems to be fading that I have worked so hard to keep.  After my prayers today, I felt okay about things.  A sort of comfort.  It's okay that these girls read my story.  It's okay that they feel my pain along with my faith.  Maybe they can connect to that pain and rely on my faith until theirs is strong enough to stand on their own.  If it's something that will help them, then I am more than willing to share.  God has not given me this experience to keep to myself.  He has a bigger plan and I trust that He will protect us as this line fades. 


There is one event that happened today that has defined my jail experience.  One of the guards came in to make an announcement.  Girls' ears perked up.  They came wondering out from their cells.  They muted the TV to hear what he had to say.  He announced that there would be a Cell Toss.  Yes, a capitalized Cell Toss.  The guards come to look for anything that might be shady, contraband, illegal.  (Don't ask me how it's even possible to get things in here.)  The guard carried a plastic milk crate box and placed it near the front of the room.  He said that in 10 minutes he would be back to pick up the box.  Anything that was dropped into the box in those 10 minutes would be immune from consequences.  He added, "You could put a long knife into here within 10 minutes and it would still be exempt." 

He stopped talking and asked if there were any questions at all.  No one answered.  I figured they would all go back to doing what they were doing - really, how much illegal items could be in this place?  Aside from the rumor of a make-shift tattoo kit, I hadn't even heard of anything illegal.  The guard left the room and I went back to dealing my cards for solitaire. 

The girls immediately scattered.  I looked around to see that I was the only one not running to find what I could from my cell to throw into the immunity box.  Had I really been that naive?!  Was there really that many things right around me and I had no clue?  I felt better that they weren't coming out with a knife or two.  They did come out with CD players that weren't theirs, which had been passed around the pod once the original owner got transferred.  They had the thin, flimsy jail-issued pens with a shampoo sticker wound around it to make it thicker, then shrink wrapped with their saran wrap from their lunch sandwich to form a good, solid pen that was sure to leave the writer cramp-free.  They pulled out pumice stones they had stolen off the cleaning cart so they could use them for their feet.  They dumped empty shampoo bottles into the box (which can be used to make alcohol with the right ingredients, I learned).  I looked upstairs at my Bunkie, who shrugged her shoulders, showing me that we were the only cell without some sort of something to put in the box.  I decided I'd go up and talk to confirm that this was the case.  She said, "You might want to get rid of a few of those," as she pointed to the stack of National Geographic magazines on my bed.  Technically we're only allowed 2 magazines, even though no one follows that rule.  Guilty of reading too much?  I'll admit it.  I saved the 2 magazines that had articles about brain research and put the others in the pile under the stairs to go back to the library. 

Soon after the guards came back in.  They lined us all up at the door in the common area.  He took a look in the milk crate, happy with the amount of contraband items he had squeezed from the pod.  One by one, they took a girl out in the hall.  Then they would call the next one out, not returning the ones before her. 

Even though I wasn't worried about them finding anything in my cell, I was still a little nervous about what they were doing with us and where they were taking us.  I heard a pair of bunkies behind me whispering, "Did you get that one thing out of there?"  There were similar conversations going on and I could feel the tension of the girls as they were asked to separate from their 'home' and the few belongings they had. 

I waited my turn and when I was called out, I walked through the heavy door into the hallway.  I saw a cheerful lady from town I had met before on the outs.  Her smile and cheery countenance was out of place for the situation, but it made me feel more comfortable.  She asked if I had anything on me.  I handed her a pen from my shirt pocket, which she set on the window seal.  Then she proceeded to pat me down.  I felt like I was in some twisted movie, not real life. 

When she was done, she returned my pen to me and pointed down the hall for me to walk to the door of the jail library.  When I opened the metal door, the room was filled with the girls that had gone through the process before me.  It was quiet and when someone did say something, it was only about something they had missed from cleaning out their cell or worrying about something one of their friends still had. 

I know it was a worrisome time for the majority of them, but the fact was that there was nothing they could do about it now.  After a few more girls entered the room after me, I announced that I had gathered them all here together for the talent show.  Half of them laughed and half wondered if I was really serious.  Realizing I was kidding, they lightened up a little and quiet conversations began.  I turned to Rachel and said, "I feel like we should play a game."  I had seen that look before - 'You. are crazy.  This is no time for a game." 

I waited for another few girls to enter the room, and then the guard came in to do a headcount to make sure everyone made it to the room.  He said they would be searching all the cells and we were to remain in the room until they were done (like we could escape, even if we wanted to).  After he left, I asked if anyone had paper.  I had eyed a board in the corner on an easel.  One of the girls found a piece of paper laying on top of the books that lined one wall of the room.  I tore the paper into small pieces and told the girls to write a word on it that we could all guess.  As they wrote (and some rolled their eyes, but came up with something anyway) I set up the easel.  I wasn't completely sure if the guards would let us use it, or what they would think by watching the monitors while I set up.  We decided to play top cell inmates against the bottom cell inmates and started a game of Pictionary. 

I caught Rachel's eye during one of the girls drawing.  She was half smiling and half still thinking I was crazy.  Either way, I had a group of 15 inmates all playing Pictionary during a stressful time while they waited to hear what would be found in their cells.  Time seemed to stand still for a minute while I watched them laughing and shouting out guesses, and watching those with artistic talent volunteer to go first to earn points for their team.  Their stripes and orange crocs seemed to disappear and I only saw their laughter, their enjoyment, and their interests. 

When the teams switched, Tuck yelled over the chaos, "Hansen, this is feeling a lot of family night!" A couple others piped up that they agreed, feeling tricked.  I shrugged my shoulders, guilty as charged, and asked her, "It does, huh?  Isn't it fun?!"

We went on playing back and forth and joking how the bottom cell team had all the artists, and the score showed it.  We were interrupted by the guard as he unlocked the door and asked if we were ready to head back to the pod.  Several of them said we weren't ready to go back, but he lined us all up anyway.  I erased the board and tried to gather up the pieces of paper, not to leave the room a mess after all our fun.  We filed down the hall back to the pod.   

The only difference to my room I could tell was that my blanket was moved and my locker was left open.  The other girls settled back in, minus a few of their belongings.  For some that was more painful than others. 


Is it a coincidence that today's step in the Plan of Salvation is Resurrection and Judgment?  I have found so many parallels in today's events with Heavenly Father's plan. 

1 Corinthians 15:21-22 - "For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."  This is a free gift that Christ has given all - that our body and our spirit will be reunited. 

John 5:28-29 - "Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation."

Alma 41 - The whole chapter is good and talks about resurrection, but it also talks about how we will still have the same characteristics and traits that we have here. 

Revelation 20:12-13 "And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.  And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works." 

I thought about as we were called out of our cells for the announcement.  We were given fair warning of what we needed to do.  We needed to get rid of anything that was not in line with the rules (commandments).  I relate this to repentance and giving up sin.  For some, they had lots to 'clean out.'  For others, not as much.  For me, it was just extra magazines - but still, they were extra magazines and were not in accordance with the rules.  The important part was that we still had our agency to choose for ourselves if we would get rid of those things or risk keeping them.  We could give those things up, or hold on to them.  For many, it was scary either way.  In jail we have so few possessions, that to give up those few things (like a CD player that didn't belong to a certain inmate), it's like giving up our livelihood - the way we know and feel comfortable living.  In real life, it's scary to give up those items - those habits - those friends - those grudges.  But if we could see what blessings are in store for us, it would not be hard for us to choose. 

As I have assimilated this place to Spirit Prison and Spirit Paradise, I thought about waiting in line to be searched as the process we will go through to be united with our bodies again.  We will each be resurrected.  Christ gave us this gift through His atonement.  I will be resurrected with my body the same as the old person in a wheelchair is reunited with hers; the same as the wild teenager with piercings and tattoos smoking pot will be resurrected with his.  I'm still curious with what age our bodies will be when we are resurrected - to our perfect frame (say, our 20's?).  It's a nice thought. 

Will it be scary for us?  Will we feel nervous?  Will we feel comfort when we reach the next step and see a cheerful face that reminds us we are headed in the right direction?  Or will we sit and worry about all those things we should have gotten rid of and didn't?  Will we kick ourselves for not listening to the warning?  Will we mourn the life we could have had with our sacrifice?  Will we feel sheepish that we wanted to hold on to those items, those bad relationships, those grudges, or habits?

Or will our spirit run to be reunited with our body?  Will we be overjoyed to reach the next step?  Will we feel free, knowing we have taken full advantage of the warning and taken care of all those mistakes when we needed to?  Will we meet God on the day of judgment having full confidence that those mistake we made were taken care of and that we can stand faithful before Him? 

Every single person is in this process right now.  The same feelings I had sitting in that room are the same eternal feelings I have about these girls - I would love to scoop them all up and return home with them.  I want to see the happiness on their faces and hear their laughter and know we are together at 'family night,' reunited together after taking care of all the big and little things that keep us separated from God. 


I went to bed on an emotional high and ready to meet my family tomorrow.  Before I covered myself in my red blanket on my top bunk, I saw my reflection in the mirror with black and white stripes, an orange undershirt, and matching orange headband.  I laughed at what I saw, knowing that even jail is no stumbling block to what Christ can do to a person's heart.  It's the inside that matters. 


I can't express how blessed I feel to connect with so many old and new friends and hear stories of how you have been touched by this adventure.  There are a few questions that I get asked repeatedly, but one is asked far more than the rest and something that is a current day struggle for us.  I will have a special blog post on Wednesday to answer that question.

1 comment:

  1. Well written thank you for sharing. My wife and I enjoy reading well written blogs. Thank you for telling your story. I have a plan to start my own blog and yours has inspired me to go ahead with that. Thank you again for this valuable information. Keep up all the hard work you have put in so far, thanks.

    Eliseo Weinstein @ JR's Bail Bonds