Week Nine

Spanish, Programming & Prayer

Another week is over, and I am one week closer to being home.  I am still waiting (impatently) for the release date.  There are two options, either leaving here and going to a halfway house for a few weeks, or going straight home for home confinement until I am officially released.  I am hoping this will happen in the beginning of the year, but can happen any time in the late winter/early spring.  For every one praying, please pray to go straight to home confinement.  My kids really need me home!

I have been working more with my Spanish buddy Lucy, and can now successfully tell her that I am going to work, going to my cube and going to read a book.  I think it is time to move on to a new verb.  She is funny, I made the comment that I was going to go write it down, and she thought I was telling her to write it down, next thing I knew, the teacher in her came out and I had a full page of English sentences translated to Spanish.  We practiced pronouncing them over and over.  The good thing is the whole time she was working on me learning it in Spanish I worked with her on learning it in English.  A couple of the other Spanish speaking ladies have picked up on it, and have started trying to get me to talk to them in Spanish also.  It is fun, and I am learning a lot of new stuff.

We have a cosmetology program here.  I went to it on Wednesday to get a hair cut, color, etc. and my hair turned out really good.  I was surprised how involved the teacher is.  The girls going through the program are getting a thorough education.  I wish they had more programs available.  They have cosmetology, culinary arts and some apprentice programs but that is it.  I sent in a request to help teach more administrative type programs (i.e. excel, word, office skills, etc), but I have not heard back from the person in charge yet.  There are a lot of things that could be done to help get these women prepared for re-entry besides teaching them how to cut hair and cook.  The basic classes taught are just that, basic.  They need to know how to work through the programs with detailed lessons.  The school system at home has a program that will certify the students in Microsoft programs, just think how helpful that would be to a former inmate trying to get a job in the real world.  I am going to keep trying.  I figure if I am going to be here, I might as well help someone with the few skills I do have.

I have spent a lot of time talking (praying) to God, and have been making good progress.  I spend a lot of time reading the Bible, and have enjoyed the verses suggested to me by some of my friends.  I have found that Psalms 25 really speaks to me, and I try to read it in the morning before work, as well as at night before bed.  I really enjoyed mass this week, the deacon who preaches to us is very good and I enjoy listening to him.   I am not ready to convert to being catholic, but I do enjoy the services.

Have a great week, keep praying.

Julie

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Learning Spanish and a Raise

The week is half over and is going fast.  I had another realization today that made my issues not look so bad.

Since Bunkie (I decided I would not use inmate’s real names) speaks fluent Spanish, she has a lot of friends that come by the cube and speak in Spanish.  One of her friends, we will call her Lucy, seems to be a really sweet lady, someone that I think I would enjoy talking to, but her English is very limited.  My Spanish consists of my memories from high school Spanish, so needless to say, conversations are not happening.  Bunkie made the comment that Lucy needs to practice her English and actually seems to know more than she speaks, due to feeling insecure.  I told Lucy that she can feel free to practice her English on me, and I will practice my Spanish on her.  She has taken this as a challenge, and insists that when we talk, I have to respond to her in Spanish.  I successfully told her the names and ages of my children, parents and brothers (yay for me!) and she was able to tell me the same about her family.  I have found out that she was a professor at a university in Puerto Rico (now I understand her desire to teach me) and Bunkie can’t understand why she feels more confident talking English to me, than to her, who is a native Spanish speaker.  We decided that since she feels she is teaching me at the same time, she has more confidence in speaking to me.  What ever it takes, she is a really nice lady.  The other day, when I was heading to work and saw her walking, I said Hola Lucy, yo soy trabajo-ing.  I was trying to say Hello Lucy, I am going to work, but by the look she gave me, I figured I was way off.  When I talked to Bunkie later and told her what I said, after she finished laughing, she told me that I cannot add -ing to a Spanish word, and my whole sentence was off.  I am glad I gave her a laugh for the night, and will remember not to add -ing to my words.

I realized that Lucy, along with several other women are in a very tough situation and I feel really bad for them.  There are no prison camps in Puerto Rico, so they are sent here.  So not only are they away from their families, they have been placed in a different country that they don’t speak the language.  Most of the staff here is bilingual, but still, what a horrible feeling.  I am determined to be able to have more than a two sentence conversation with Lucy by the time I leave here.

On a happy note, I found out I got a raise today.  My whole month of August will be at my new pay rate, $.29 an hour, yes that is 29 cents!  It is a big increase from the $.12 I received in July.  I read somewhere that it costs an average of $87 a day for each person here.  I wonder if those figures, count the labor that they are getting.  Even on the low end, an electrical helper (since I am never in my tool cage anymore) would be making at least $9 an hour.  Oh well, just look how much fun I am having.  That was sarcasm, which by the way, my sarcasm does not translate well when I am talking to Bunkie, I tend to confuse her.

Have a great rest of the week!

Julie

Week Eight

More Classes, Cuban Food & Giving it over to God

Another week is over.  It was a pretty good week.  I enjoyed getting some puzzles in the mail.  They kept me busy this weekend in between visits.  Work was tough on Tuesday.  Somehow we were volunteered to help bend rebar to hold down the plastic pipes in the ditch before they are filled with cement (last week we put together the plastic holders that the pipes sit on, none of us had to actually get into the ditch).  The rebar is bent with a manual bender.  After it took two of us to hold down the bender and try to bend the rebar, the guys (not prisoners, employees) took over and we just set up each piece and moved it around after it was bent.  The rebar was covered in a dust of rust, which by the end, I was covered in a layer of rust dust.  It was hot, sweaty work, but we got the job done.  I can’t wait to see what fun this week brings.  I keep asking to go back into my nice little tool cage, but the boss likes having the extra hands when we are working.

I survived my speech last week about “You can’t start a new chapter in your life, if you keep re-reading the last”.  I was told I did a good job, but she told everyone that.  At least I looked up and didn’t read off of the paper, a big step for me.  This week we were all given a phrase that we have to start our speech with, mine is “broken promises”.  I can do a whole lot with that one!  I started a new class this week, “Building Wealth”, which focuses on Dave Ramsey’s version of budgeting and also goes into investing, stocks, etc.  On Friday, I went to a seminar led by the author of the book, “The 5 Love Languages”, Dr. Gary Chapman.  I was impressed that he would take the time to come here and talk to us.  It was a great seminar and I got a lot out of it.

I think I may have mentioned that my Bunkie is originally from Cuba.  She and I have a great time talking.  She is a very positive person, and is good for me when I start having little moments.  Today we were talking about food, and I have never heard of half of the things she cooks.  She started talking about plantains and I told her I have never tried them.  She asked why and I told her they look like bananas and I absolutely hate bananas.  She told me they don’t taste like bananas, and I told her they still look like them, and I can’t do it.  Finally after going in circles, I agreed to try one of her garlic flavored plantain chips, and I loved it.  So now, not only am I going to order them tomorrow at commissary, but she is going to give me some recipes to try with them when I get home.  I still won’t be trying bananas!

The rough part of the week came on Friday.  I had followed up several times with my counselor to make sure my brother and sister in law were approved to visit this weekend.  Friday afternoon, I went looking for him one last time and he was gone for the day.  I went to the counselor that was here (the scariest woman) and she looked it up and told me it was not done.  I was devastated, and spent most of the evening emotional in my cube.  Once I calmed down, my Bunkie told me that perhaps there was a divine reason they were not approved for this weekend.  That maybe God had a reason for intervening and not allowing them to be approved.  Or Satan played a part in it, knowing I have been working very hard on my faith, to try to push me away.  Either way, it is ok to be disappointed, but I needed to turn my anger over to God, stop stressing about it and let him work it out.  So I did.  I had a long talk with God that night, and gave it all to him.  I am still disappointed, but I am not upset anymore.

I just want to clarify from my sleeping with snakes story the other day, I was referring to my past relationships.  My current relationship does not fall in that category, probably because we have taken it at a snail’s pace (minus throwing a baby into the mix) and have been taking the time to really get to know each other.  Which makes a major difference!

I am hoping for a calm, fast week!  Have a great one!

Julie

Sleeping With Snakes!

I am going to start posting mid week because I forget stories by the end of the week.  Today in my Women Who Love Too Much class, we heard a story (no clue if it is true, but the story makes a good point).

Jane had a pet Boa Constrictor.  She loved her snake and treated it like it was her child.  The snake had free roam of the house, only going into a cage at feeding time, to make it easier for him to catch his rats.  After awhile, her snake stopped eating. Soon he was losing weight and Jane, being very concerned, took him to see the vet.  The vet started asking her questions about the snake’s living conditions.  He asked Jane where the snake slept at night and she told him that the snake sleeps with her, in the bed.  The vet asked her if the snake sleeps curled up in a ball, or straight out next to her. She told the vet that the snake sleeps straight out next to her like a person.  The vet then informed her that her snake is not sick. The reason he sleeps stretched out next to her, is he is measuring her.  The reason he stopped eating is to make enough room for her.

The snake pulled her into his life, got her to trust him, and the whole time was planning how he was going to take (over) her life.  Sounds like every one of my past relationships!  My hope for my girls is that they take the time to figure out if the men in their relationships are snakes, long before they are measured up and taken over.

Have a great rest of the week.

Julie

Week Seven

Long week!
Week 7 is over.  7 weeks = 49 days.  49 days that I have been away from my family, away from my children who need me, my dogs that need me, my job that needs me, my house that needs me.  I am in a very me, me, me mood right now.  I received a lecture earlier about worrying about things going on at home, but how can I not.  My parents are stuck dealing with one of my dogs getting sick, my AC going out, the girl’s shower plumbing having to be replaced, my hot water heater having to be replaced, and now there is another plumbing issue in the girl’s bathroom.  How can I not stress about it?  How can I sit here and not worry about the things going on, that everyone else is having to step up, take care of and even pay for, while I am sitting here?   My parents are trying to co-raise a 3 year old, while I am here.  A 3 year old that asks me every conversation, “When are you coming home mommy? Can I come sleep with you at your new place?” It has just been a really rough week emotionally.

I ran out of puzzles (Sudoku, word searches, easy crosswords, etc) and have been patiently waiting for the package from my mom with a new book.  We had a good laugh this week, because I went into the unit library, to the stack of magazines that people put in there when they are done, to see if there were any puzzles in the back of one that had not been done.  I was skimming through them fast, and I was so excited when I found a blank crossword.  I went back to my cube, opened it up to do it, only to realize I had picked up a Spanish magazine.  Needless to say, I did not do the crossword.  If anyone has magazines they are getting rid of and want to mail them to me, let Bethany know and she can give you my address.  I have been reading everything lately, from Redbook to Entrepreneur, People to Home Decorating.  The rule is there cannot be more than 5 magazines in the envelope, and they have to be “appropriate”, so the latest of issues of Guns & Ammo, American Sniper or Playgirl would not make it past the mail room.  Also, if you do not do the puzzles in the paper, and want to cut them out and send them, please do!  The puzzles help cut the boredom, and the weekend is boring, especially when I do not have a visit.  I can only sit and read my book and crochet for so long before my ADD kicks in.

Sorry this is not a happy, positive post.  I am just not there this week.  If anyone wants to send me ideas to read in the Bible to help with my mood, feel free to send those too.

Have a good week.

Julie

Week Six

Pros, Soul Searching, & Lava Cake

This week has been a long one.  I was getting discouraged earlier this week and one of the girls that has been here for a few years told me to sit down and make a list of 5 Pros of being here.  She said my Cons list would be way too long but I needed to think of 5 good things and keep thinking about them when I am down.  So here is my list.

1.  I don’t have to do laundry (still have to iron it, since it gets washed and dried in a laundry bag)
2.  I don’t have to plan any meals or cook.  This one is a biggie since I hate cooking anyway and honestly am very happy letting someone else plan my meals.
3.  Lots of time to crochet.
4.  Free medical/prescriptions & therapy.
5.  Lots of time to think and get my head back on straight.

I have also made some friends, which is not always easy for me.  I have always been jealous of my brother, Kyle.  I remember being kids on vacation, swimming in the hotel pool.  Within 10 minutes, he had made friends with all of the kids and would be having a great time, while I would be sitting on the steps, hoping someone would come over and talk to me.  My Bunkie has been very encouraging in trying to get me out and and more involved.  I never thought I would like having a roommate, but I have been very lucky with her.

I have been continuing with my classes.  The Women Who Love Too Much is very hard emotionally, but very good.  Lots of good conversations and it is good to know I am not the only person here with a head not where it needs to be thanks to different things from the past.  I started a new class on Friday called “Competent Communicating”, and it is a class on public speaking…UGH!  Not my thing, but I am determined to be able to talk in front of a group.  Maybe I can even talk to a group about my experiences here at some point.  We have to give a speech each week to the class.  The one I am working on for this Friday is about taking a quote that relates to your life and talking about it for a minute or 2.  I have been going in circles trying to figure out which quote to use, and thanks to a very well timed book from my mom, I am going with “You cannot start the next chapter in your life, if you are still reading the last one”.  It does explain where I am right now, just need to figure out how to talk about it for a minute.

Work has been interesting.  I did not spend any time in my little tool cage this week.  Instead, I was testing tools for grounding, changing light bulbs, and helping clean up the gun range.  It was a busy week work wise, which made the days go by a lot faster.

I did have an “a-ha” moment this week.  On Wednesday, I was in the prescription pick up line.  I was about 5th in line, and a lady came in that eats lunch with me.  She was about 15th in line, and was stressing because she was afraid she wouldn’t make it back to work before her boss locked up for the day and she didn’t bring her stuff with her.  I told her to trade places with me, I was done for the day and in no rush.  She was so grateful, thanked me as she left and made it back to work.  The girl in line in front of me, looked at me and told me that she could not believe I gave up my place for someone else, and that they would have never done it for me.  I told her that it was fine, I had no where else to go, and it was no big deal.  She then told me that I was too nice for prison.  The girl behind me told me we should have tried that as a defense to the judge “I am sorry your honor, but my client is just too nice for prison”.  Who knows, other defenses have worked, that one may have.  The next day, we spent the day cleaning the firing range.  When I came back in, my feet were killing me.  They have work boots you can buy, or you can use the work boots they issue to you, which are not a very good quality.  I refuse to pay extra for boots, and my poor feet were suffering that day.  A girl in my unit (that has been here awhile), and has never really said anything to me more than Hi, asked what size I wore.  I told her, and a few minutes later she came over to me with an old pair of Timberland boots.  They were her old boots, she had given to someone else, who is leaving this week, and had just given them back to her.  She told me to take them, and walked away.  They are well used, but my feet are so happy now!  Definitely a change from the old Julie, I never would have worn someone’s old ugly boots before.  She still doesn’t talk much to me, but I tell her every time I see her how happy my feet are.  It wasn’t until the next day, I realized that the good deed I did on Wednesday, came back to me on Thursday in the form of the boots.  I want to track down the girl from the prescription line and tell her about it, but I don’t think she will get it.

Time to go, my Bunkie is teaching me to make Prison Lava Cake tonight, out of generic Oreos, a chocolate bar and Pepsi.  So many new recipes to bring home for family dinner night!!

Have a great week.

Julie

Week Five

Classes, Books, and The Frog

I have made it through 5 weeks, and am ready to come home. Talking with Landon on the phone the other night was torture, and I ended up crying for about 30 minutes after.  How do I explain to a 3 year old, that no, I cannot come sleep at Grandmommy’s beach condo with him, and I can’t pick him up to come sleep here with me?  Being away from him and the girls is the true punishment here, for them and me.

I went back to my Event Planning class and am disappointed.  I am not learning anything that I had hoped for.  Oh well, I will finish it, at least I will get credit for taking the class.   I did start another class during the week, “Women Who Love Too Much”, based on the book with the same name.  The instructor teaching the class said she had a hard time with the book and the concept, because it was too hard, not the book itself, but the emotions it brought up reading the book.  I am stuck on the 3rd chapter now and it is very hard.  It is hard to realize that I basically walked around with a sign on my head saying “Marry me, and abuse me, it’s OK”.  Why did I stay for 8 years, being told daily how stupid I was, among other things, only to decide it was time to leave when I picked myself up off of the ground?  Why did I do it all again, for 9 years, but this time be told how I was not good enough, needed to lose weight, do my hair different, even was told that if I wanted a boob job, he would be happy to put it in the budget?  Really?  I rarely take pictures of myself anymore.  I realized, during all of my soul searching, that I stopped, halfway through my second marriage.  I still have an issue with taking them, I always look fat and ugly in them.  I now understand why I feel that way, but it doesn’t help any.  When I get out, I am determined to take some pictures and be happy with myself.  There was a hashtag going around before I came in, #HeDoesn’tHitMeBut.  If I had a nickel for every time I said those 5 words during my 2 marriages……  I read through some of the posts on Twitter with that hashtag and I could have written 95% of them.  No wonder my head is so messed up.  I want my girls to read the book, it is well worth the read, and hopefully will stop them from dealing with the same crap I dealt with.  If anyone ever has to say the line “He doesn’t hit me but…”, it is time to re-evaluate everything to do with that relationship.

I ran out of yarn, and had to wait for Monday to come around to get more (I miss running to Michael’s).  I am almost done with the first of the two twin blankets.  I went back to reading, to pass the time.  I have read all of the Mary Higgins Clark, JA Jance, James Patterson, as well as a few others in the library.  I started on Iris Johansen, who has a lot of books, and should keep me busy for awhile.  I read fast (finished most of the books in a day) so at the rate I am going, I may make it through all of the mystery/suspense books in the library before I leave.  I have thrown in a couple of fictions here and there, I avoid the romances though, I have no desire to read the Happily Ever After stories.

The comedy moment of the week came on Saturday night, around midnight.  We were all sleeping when we heard a frog start his croaking..LOUD.  It was non stop.  I started hearing some of the girls trying to find him, and one even went to get a guard, who sent her back.  It apparently is not their job to find the frog.  This went on for over an hour, he would stop for a minute and then start back up again.  We finally decided he was outside of the emergency door (which is right next to my cube).  There is a metal stairway outside of the door going up to the second floor emergency door.  His croaks were echoing off of the metal, so it was worse than if he just was out there making noise.  When he stopped after an hour everyone settled back down to go to sleep, when about 15 minutes later, he started back up again.  This went on for the next couple of hours, until he must have lost his voice, or finally found himself a mate.  All I know is there were a lot of people taking naps on Sunday afternoon!

That’s it for this week.  I am trying to stay positive here, it is getting a little harder, but I am determined to work on myself, as long as I have this extra time.

Have a great week.
Julie