Jail Tales – 3 – Experiencing, observing, analysing people

I used to go to church in the Spanish girls’ cells. One of the women in our pod was a pastor. She held prayer meetings. A lot of crying and wailing went on and they had these songs they’d sing, like I’d never heard before, with a particular harmony and rhythm that felt alien at first, after being surrounded by gospel music for four years. They prayed in Spanish. I prayed in English reading from a book of Baha’i prayers sent to me by my beloved.  In that space I imagine I felt some of the solace  slaves may have felt when they sung together, expressing their suffering and praying to be set fr

Marie-Lourdes was 46, Mexican by birth and a mother of four. She’d divorced from her husband and brought her children to America to find a new life.  She was a kindly woman, feeling the pain of separation from her children, three of whom had been taken into care after she was arrested in a raid on the factory she slaved in.

About 3 weeks into her time in jail, she was on the telephone to someone on the outside.I was standing near by.  She screamed, dropped the phone and fell to the ground weeping.   She’d just learned that her ex husband had been shot dead by Mexican gangsters. Apparently life is so worthless there that there are many executions every week, drive by shootings, someone looked at someone the wrong way or showed ‘disrespect’ or didn’t kowtow to the Cartel’s minions and they were offed.

Before she was arrested, she’d been talking with her husband of reuniting.  I remember sitting on the floor with her, holding her, stroking her hair while she wept and wept.  The other Hispanic girls gathered round and took her into their care.  There was a tremendous amount of kindness and caring in that jail and there was also a lot of bullying and meanness.

A couple of weeks later, another ‘angel’,  the kindly Miss Mitchell, who was an officer designated to help with our welfare. got me moved to a pod where there was a German Scottish girl.  I’d met her briefly because she delivered food. She handed me an envelope with a jail biro, some paper.  This was her calling card. She was also interested because she’d grown up some in Scotland but lived most of her life in Germany as a German citizen. Her jail name was ‘Germany’ – even Lieutenant Brown, the man in charge below the Warden called her that.

‘Germany’ or Christiani as she was named, had been in there a year, fighting to stay in the US.. She’d married a Southern guy who was violent. They’d run a rescue centre and she and he had been accused of animal cruelty, reported by angry neighbours. I saw the print out’s she had of her internet infamy.  She maintained her innocence. You can never tell.  After being investigated for the animal cruelty, she’d gone on the run with her two sons, with whom she had a special bond, almost too special.. it was always the 3 of them.. she even had a name for them as a threesome.  She had gotten to Niagra Falls when she was caught and transported back to Georgia in a long bus ride, the only female prisoner in a bus full of men.

Her mother and father in Germany had washed their hands of her but taken custody of her children.  She did get to write to them but never to speak with them or her parents.  She was fighting her case to stay using the abused woman’s loophole where a woman who was the victim of abuse, if she could prove it, might be granted leave to stay.

Christiani was tough. She’d done a year in a federal pen after being arrested up North and had been involved in gang fights. Such had been the ‘gang’ warfare in her last jail that they were locked down often to separate the warring factions. She showed me a tattoo that she’d done herself with the symbol of her ‘gang’.  She truly liked me and was a good companion for a time.

She also had the best job in that jail.  She and Lulu delivered the food. Who delivered the food was automatically powerful.  People are easily bribed with food, which is a commodity in jail, like gold is on the outside.  An extra tray of slop would buy loyalty for as long as the tray appeared. Christiani liked me.  Probably because I was the only other Brit in there, even though she was German by nationality, she had also lived in Scotland for some years.

She had long hair that she often wore braided. Braiding was a service the Hispanic girls would offer in return for food and sometimes just because they wanted to be liked. Christiani was 40 and still in bloom. She was also angry and mean and was conducting a love affair with a Haitian male prisoner who was fighting deportation and working in the kitchens. She and he had trysts in the kitchen and many notes were passed on those food trays.

Lulu was top dog and Christiani a formidable second.

Lulu had crossed the border through Canada ten years prior to her ending up in jail, originally getting to Canada as a child from the Congo. She was gay and risked persecution if sent back to her country which she had left so long ago. But she also had a record of assaults,  theft etc. Lulu was big and strong and ruled with a velvet covered rod of iron.

She was also self appointed ‘in charge’ of the pod.  The officers, most of whom were black, loved Lulu. I understand this. She could be charming and she actually liked me. I finally broke into the card playing cartel, and made Lulu laugh out loud.. she liked hearing me speak.   I loved playing Spades with her and two others.  Spades saved me from insanity/We use what we can. BUT Lulu was also a bully and she dominated the TV and she and I eventually came to verbal blows. But not before I’d shored up my allies and my information.

Next Story >  Jail Tales – 4 – The TV Wars

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Jail Tales – 5 – Pod Power and how it works

The Pod is the collective word for the room containing a day room and cells.  In each Pod there is a power system which is based on some very simple algorithms.  He/She who can provide the most needed service, from translation to food…rules.

Maria – Bilingual, 50ish, Hispanic Seasoned jail time – Lulu – 38 – from the Congo, lesbian, acknowledged pod ruler been in there a year – Christiani, nearly a year fighting to stay in US on violence to women clause, German/Scottish, 40, Lulu’s obbo.  Lulu and Christiani were on food delivery.  

Aged  50ish, originally from Honduras, Maria had been in the US for 25 years. She’d made her first foray at age 20 or so, been caught and deported after only a few weeks in the country. She crossed again and this time stayed for 25 years during which she’d married, built up a cleaning business, bought a house of which half was paid off, paid her taxes and birthed two children who were now grown up and citizens.

If you come back after being deported once, that is a federal crime, a felony and you get sent straight to jail.   Maria had been visiting North Carolina from California, driving with no licence when she was caught.  She served 18 months in a county jail in North Carolina and as she was to discover, Maria had landed in one of the few great county jails in the South.

The Sheriff, an elected official who is top dog in the jail, had decided that education and activity should be part of jail life.  In general activities and education are normal in prison [where you go when convicted] but not in jail [where you go whilst awaiting trial or to serve out your missed probation payments or, in this case, to await deportation]. In those 18 months, Maria had spent every morning and afternoon out of her cell at classes, gotten her GSD and learned to speak fluent English.

Her arrival at Irwin Detention Centre as a guest of the Department of Homeland Swastika, ICE, division, meant that the Hispanic girls had another champion.   Prior to Maria’s arrival, that role had been filled by Magdalene, a long term Mexican undocumented worker who’d been caught selling fake social security numbers to fellow Mexicans so they could gain employment.

Maria soon gathered a clan of girls around her.   They tended to be young and fairly devout in their Catholicism as Maria appeared to be. Maria’s little baskets woven from paper were a delight.  She had her girls cut up paper and ran a paper basket weaving group in her cell, where she held court every night and ran bible classes.  And she gave those baskets away to everyone including the jailers. In those 18 months Maria had also learned how to do jail well. She was an ‘old pro’.

As a bilingual inmate Maria had considerable power and she allied herself to Lulu. She was a clever woman.  She was not unkind at all.  She dispensed extra food amongst those sitting at her table as she ate mostly food bought with money on her books.  But not everyone liked Maria. Some refused to be part of her group and ran their own prayers and kept their own counsel.

But Maria played the game.. and I didn’t. She tried to remain neutral whilst appearing to be in agreement with whoever she thought had the most power.

Maria used to lead a couple of girls around the pod at around 6pm on an exercise walk. There are a lot of Maria stories to tell… but that’s for another tale..

Our cells surrounded a ‘day room’. The room had a skylight of natural light, but the two stories echoed every sound.  There was a microwave and a TV and a number of sturdy stainless steel tables with long benches, firmly concreted into the floor which seated about 8 people..on two benches.  At lunch, most people picked their spot and that was their spot.  I moved around.  I sat on Maria’s table for a while and with the other Spanish girls.

When Lulu wanted someone out of the pod, she’d martial everyone, the two Chinese Girls were automatically with her.. as one of them helped serve food and the other did what her friend told her to.  She’d poll  the Spanish via Maria and do what was called ‘writing someone out’  +If enough people signed one of the official request forms stating they wnted her out..quite often the person was moved.  The authorities want to avoid any form of trouble.

Threatening to ‘write someone out’ was one of the ways Lulu used her power.  I even signed a ‘write out’ because I knew if I wanted to survive, I had to play this game, until I was ready. I only signed one ‘write out’ and when she engineered the next one against Rosemary, a Nigerian girl  I was the only who gave sanctuary to Rosemary and refused to sign.  . Rosemary moved to another pod, where I’d been before and soon settled in before being let out. I remember Rosemary fondly because we’d gotten together a rap dance.. and I’d learned the words of this song that we used to do together.  It wasn’t all misery and depression. and Rosemary’s ‘write out’ occurred as my powerbase was increasing and Lulu’s power over me was declining.

I fell out with Christiani before I fell out with Lulu.  Christiani had gotten me into share a cell with her but had since banished me  because I dared to go use the law library computer with Rosemary knowing that Christiani used it every day.  In this kind of world, logic, fairness, justice, sharing do not apply in the normal way.  She who holds the most power wins.

Christiani had been using this computer for a year, to research her case and if someone got in her way, they were wrong.  No argument. Like most people there her only goal was to survive and thrive as much as possible while she worked on getting herself an amnesty to stay in the US under the abused wive’s loophole.

So when Rosemary asked me to go to the law library computer with her to do some research, I went along. It was an excuse to get out of the cell even if it were housed in a dingy storeroom in which 1/3 of the room was divided by a huge gate behind which were kept mattresses and cleaning equipment.  The law library was a computer at a table with two chairs, where we could access all aspects of Immigration Law and nothing else.

Christiani and I had some good times despite our eventual fall out   As with Sunshine one of my favourite cellmates in the Fannin County Jail, I’d laughed and laughed sometimes till I felt sick.  But when I committed the sin of using the computer when she wanted it, I was ‘thrown out’ of her cell.  As it happens this was great because I got myself put into a cell right at the end that had been vacated the night before. Miss Mitchell had recommended that I be in a cell on my own.

My new ‘home’ was the last cell on the ground floor and was, IMO, in the best position, ground floor which meant I was close to the microwave and the TV, private because the room tapered to a short width at the end  and people did not pass by or hang out at that end. There were no tables. I could also could stand in front of my door during inspection knowing all my ‘contraband’ was hidden behind the door. They never once thought to look there..  It was a blessing and my time with Christiani had given me enough ammunition to challenge Lulu.

And I did.. in front of everyone…

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Jail Tales – 4 – The TV Wars

tvinjail cartoon There was a schedule for TV, but Lulu overrode it and for the most part the pod was peaceful, so the officers let it slide.  She and Christiani loved hip hop and would switch channels and turn up the volume full blast.

I hate that kind of noise. It disturbs my spirit. After living in the peace of the woods up a dirt track for four years, loving gospel music, the violent, jagged, relentless beat of hip hop was as much an assault on my senses as was the stuff they put on plates and called food.

I stood up to Lulu.   I had hidden powers..  During the time I shared a cell with Christiani, I had learned all of their scams from selling milk to the Korean hooker who had lots of funds ,accumulating fruit and sugar and where they hid the ‘hooch’

The TV was my enemy and Lulu loved the TV. I started sabotaging the TV.   The TV was on from 7am until 11pm and 1am on Friday and Saturday. Every morning they opened the cell doors to let Lulu and Christiani out to go serve the food. I’d rush out of my cell before they emerged and unplug the TV.   No one would notice the TV was off until 11 am or so because after breakfast at 5am, those of us who had breakfast went back to our cells and slept and those of us who didn’t stayed asleep until we had to get up to clean the room for morning inspection at 9am.  Again, most people would go back to sleep after that, until 11 or so when the pod woke up.

Pet Jail Hate - TVI modified my assaults on the TV to simply turning the volume down to zero after Lulu had complained that someone unplugged it and she’d lost a station she’d set up.  Remembering we were in jail and most of us were going to get out at some time, no one wanted to do anything that would really jeopardise their chances.

To be involved in a fight was a felony and we could be made to serve time for that.  No one wanted that so Lulu didn’t fight physically even though she was strong and muscular.  If it had come down to physical fighting, I’d have been as cowered as the rest.   BUT when it comes down to mental warfare, I’m clever. I found ways to undermine her, win some peace for myself and make life more bearable for the Hispanic girls.

Lulu allotted TV time to the Hispanic* girls using the ‘official schedule’ only when it suited her ends.  Most of the girls didn’t speak English and English was the first language in jail.  The officers didn’t speak  Spanish and most of them were poor and doing this job because it was a major employer in the area.  The money was crap and they spent all day walking grey corridors as much prisoners as us.  They liked Lulu and they were rife with prejudices about Hispanics, whom they referred to collectively as Mexicans.

The TV was high up on a wall. There were only two ways to reach it and change channels. One was to use a broom, only available during cleaning time [8am – 9am] when mops and brooms were brought in and then taken away.   The other was to stand on the steel benches, step from there onto the steel table, all built into the floor, and from there on to the upturned dustbin.  it was a reach from the top of the dustbin to the TV controls and only those who were tall enough could do this.

Hispanics are generally shorter in stature than me and most of them couldn’t reach the controls.  I had the height and extra long arms.  I said I had hidden powers.. not so hidden, just not so obvious.

When something came on that was offensive to my ears, Jerry Springer or Hip Hop for e-ghastly-xample,  and if Lulu was out of the pod, I’d turn the channel to a Spanish one and turn down the volume as I did it, saying to them ‘is this OK?’.  I had no desire to watch TV and the drone of a Spanish soap opera at lower volume was far more peaceful to my ears than hip hop and the add bonus is that the Hispanics got to watch their TV.  And I made allies.

Soon they’d be approaching me and asking  ‘Miss Sunny can you put on Spanish TV? please.’ I became their champion.  The war of the TV was on and I was making headway. I never stopped. When either of the two top bitches were out of that pod, I turned down the volume or changed the channel.

When you don’t speak the language of authority you are more powerless.  You depend on someone else to interpret your needs. Maria took on that role a few days after her arrival

Next Story > Jail Tales – 5 – Pod Power – who really runs the show?

* I’m sorry if I may have appeared non-PC in my cultural definitions. If I did, by some happenstance, here’s my answer.   For the sake of easier communication,  I’m calling the South American female inmates Hispanics.  The officers called them ‘Mexicans’. Hispanic works as a collective term because jail does form collectives and separatist groups. My purpose seems to be to not be of any group but strive to engage with and join up dots. 

 

 

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Jail Tales – 2 – Moved to another jail The next breakdown

irwincountycelldoorsMy next breakdown occurred in the second jail I was shipped to, 6 hours drive from my home town.

Comes a time when all illegals must face the journey to an ICE detention centre. The one I was sent to on October 17th 2012, was Irwin County Detention Center which ‘rented’ a few pods to ICE [the DHS immigration enforcement gang].

I arrived around 1.30 am after being woken the previous morning, having to pack up and dress to make sure I got some of my stuff in with me, put in a barred truck with a driver and a guard and hauled  to ICE offices in Atlanta, I spent the day in a cell with an interesting Mexican woman who was doing Federal time, and a number of women, mostly wearing a navy uniform, hispanic mostly, and one Indian girl [Patel, as she was known, later got herself released after virtually starving and finally taking a drastic life risking measure – that’s a whole other story]

I was put into a transport truck with all the ‘navy’ girls, and a lot of rather desperate looking males in orange.  Most, of them, I later discovered, had been to Atlanta to see the immigration judge.  We were hauled for 6 hours, handcuffed.

When you are a prisoner, you find triumph in the smallest rebellions against authority. During the ride, I managed to slip my handcuffs. I wasn’t going anywhere or planning a break out, but I felt a short sense of freedom, of ‘up yours’ to the authority that had put me here.

October in Georgia, especially as you move into Southern Georgia can be warm. The day they took me it was hot and steamy outside, but inside the bus was A/C cold. The men, sitting in the back, demanded we put on the AC.  The fat female deputy gave in to their demands. It was freezing and I was glad I’d put on all my sweat stuff, vests etc.. because it was not easy getting out all my stuff.. stuff is very important in jail.

Sitting next to me was a Brazilian woman who looked ancient but was younger than me. She’d been captured in the summer wearing a t-shirt and flip flops. Now, being moved to the final destination before deportation, after serving some time in a county jail, as I did, she sat shivering in the van dressed only in the clothes she’d been brought in with.

We ended up in a cell together. I speak minimal Portuguese. She spoke no English. The only person in that particular ‘pod’ who spoke English was a hardened woman who had been in for a year.. and helped me to the minimum. I was in a place where I couldn’t express my feelings..

I lay there during count one night feeling total despair. I got out of bed and started cutting myself.  I laugh at that. I was such a coward that I only cut my hair.. slicing it with my razor. Yes we were allowed a razor but it had to be accounted for. I started to shave my eyebrows and cut myself accidentally.  My cell mate saw blood running down my face and started screaming as if I were a madwoman. I don’t blame her.

The officers came and took me out. Once again, perhaps my Englishness saved me. I was taken in a wheelchair to medical and on the way through some miracle, they  let me call home. That saved me. ALL I wanted was to speak to the only person in the world I truly felt of as family. My man. I managed to convince them that I was not a nutter but had had an episode brought on by isolation. The isolation was about not being able to communicate.

One night I was so sad, I lay in my bunk weeping during count [count takes place twice a day, and we are locked in our cells, the TV is turned off and they let us out 45 mins later. Count was my favorite time of day!] And then I heard angels.

Sweet voices from the cell below’ Miss Sunny we love you’. When count was over Brenda, the young Hispanic girl who had called out to me in that time of despair, appeared in my cell doorway. In her hand was a drawing. It had hearts and butterflies and all over it were written the words ‘Te amo, Miss Sunny’. I was touched beyond measure.

Everyone has a story and using my broken Spanish or a translator or signs.. I engaged, experiencing and observing the human interactions..

Next Story  > Jail Tales -Experiencing, observing, analysing people

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Jail Tales – 1 – Depression and learning to play the system

In jail, if you’re trying to get some help, it’s OK to say you’re depressed but everyone learns very quickly, when they ask you if you’ve ever felt suicidal, you say NO.  If you admit to that you’re done for.  They will isolate you.  I had to have a ‘lose it’ episode before I got an urgent appointment via a TV screen with a psychiatrist.  I came out of there with anti-depressants and sleeping pills. You don’t get sleeping pills if you say you can’t sleep. You have to be more subtle.  Those pills came in useful and helped me build bridges…

Losing it in jail is risky.  The chances are high that they will put you in solitary in a turtle suit which is a bit like a straight jacket. I understand why. There is no official way of dealing with people who are emotionally upset than to remove them from ‘general population’ so that they don’t disturb others or become the potential for a nasty law suit.

I walked past the isolation rooms several times including when I was brought in, taken out and on the two visits I had to the dentist. It was like a horror movie. The people in the isolation cells would stand at the window, sometimes mouthing words, faces contorted with pain and suffering, a deranged look of despair and madness. That is how I read their faces.

Two times in jail I kicked up and lost it. Two times I was saved by human angels. The first angel was an older jailer, Sgt Christopher, who, instead of shipping me to isolation he pulled me out and talked with me. I calmed down. I was freaked by being on lockdown. I had gotten under the bed in my cell and started screaming and banging my head against the metal. Sgt Christopher  treated me like the intelligent adult I am and removed the lockdown order.

I’d been put in ‘lockdown’, cut off from the rest of the people because I told them someone had threatened me. It was true, but I wasn’t afraid and when threatened with being thrown over the balcony simply said ‘go on then, I don’t care’.   I just wanted to move my cell to be with someone who I’d gotten more friendly with instead of  sharing with a the girl who was a weak follower of the bully and a wimpy pathetic creature and I used this as a reason to be moved. BIG Mistake.

In jail you NEVER tell anyone in authority that you’re being threatened unless you really fear for your life. Isolation in any form is the worst punishment yet it is their only form of ‘protection’. They cannot afford to be held responsible if someone does something ‘stupid’.I saw a few moments of a TV show based on life in jail. A ‘trusty’ is introducing a new girl to the way it works. As she walks away she turns back and says ‘and see that panic button out there. NEVER push it, ever’.

In this particular jail there is a communication port where you press a button and get to talk to one of the officers guarding you. I remember standing in my friends cell, the one I wanted to move to, putting my case.  I didn’t realise that there are some things you just do NOT say and definitely don’t say as an attempt to get ‘better treatment’.

As soon as I said ‘I’m being threatened’ all hell broke loose. A general announcement came across the tannoy. – everyone was to return to their cells except Christina who was in the single cell She was moved to where I wanted to be and I was moved to the single cell.  That was the cell they used to lock you down. I was put in lockdown. The cell turned out to be a total blessing, but, on lockdown, it was my worst nightmare.

Lockdown works like this. You are shut in your cell.  You cannot fraternise. You cannot enter the day room whilst others are in there.  You don’t get to exercise with the rest of them. Every time you need to be out of your cell, they get locked down in theirs.  If you want to make a  phone call, they are herded back into their cells. Imagine how they feel when they are watching TV and because *I* need to make a call they are deprived of precious TV moments.  They do not feel compassion. They feel anger towards me as the cause of their deprivation.

That is NOT a route to take.  As soon as they shut that door I realised the extent of my mistake.. and if it weren’t for Sgt Christopher, god knows what would have become of me.   He invited me outside and ‘had a chat’ at which point I became lucid and articulate and told him my story calmly and intelligently. He got it.  He removed the lockdown 12 hours after it started and I got to keep the single cell and avoided being the object of anyone else’s anger.  The cell proved to be a blessing for more than just me. [The Prayer Cell stories are in development 😉 ]

Next Story > Jail Tales – Moving to another Jail – The Next Breakdown

 

 

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Writing my way out of depression

Now here’s the truth. I love the idea of healthy eating and being healthy but I am not. I smoke tobacco. It is the only solace I have. It takes precedent over everything. When I’m down, I will get out there and get that tobacco even if I want to just go back to bed. Everyone will tell me it is a death sentence and the fact is I KNOW. That’s why I smoke..

Deep down there is some knowing that smoking tobacco will eventually take me from this life that these days is barely tolerable, punctuated with the odd moment of hope. I know how to eat healthy, but in times of depression, that goes out the window. I have been overdoing the wheat, the sugar and the dairy.

For three days the juicer has sat there un-used as I rummage past the beets and carrots and lemons and ginger and all things good for me to get to the rich creamy blue cheese, butter and sourdough bread.  The box of chocolates I bought for my mother who is living on a diet of protein drinks and soup say ‘open me’ I do and eat the entire box. I weigh myself which only confirms I’ve been eating too much shit.

This morning I chose coffee and a cigarette over a pint of water, lemon and honey and a pint of juice.

I’m depressed and it comes over me in waves, and sometimes I’m not, but it never quite goes away. My mind takes me down the dark corridors of sadness and I have to find a way out.

I chose not to live this life that I am now living.  I chose to jump, illegally, for good reason, to the USA into the woods with my beloved, a crazy, brilliant amazing man to build  the kind of life I wanted. I hurt no one, I spent my own money taking nothing from the alien country in which I lived. I found joy in the simplicity – living on the land surrounded by forest, growing food, being with my man and my dogs and the chickens, singing gospel music in the little country church and being outdoors in nature. It was idyllic, but a dark cloud hung over me. I was there illegally and through my own doing, I lost it all…..

I was shipped back to a town adopted by my parents where they perched in their fancy apartment, never really becoming part of this seaside town on the South Coast of England.

I live in a kind of haze,at times inspired knowing that I have information to share and a mission to help myself and others embrace a ‘return to earth’ life.  I get involved in things, experiencing moments of joy and satisfaction, but feeling overwhelmed by doing things I hate doing and stressing myself and knowing no one else is either willing or able or has the time to do.  Sometimes I curse my multi-talented nature.   And despite the good times, I am aware of a bubbling darkness in my existence.

I don’t laugh much any more and I’ve always laughed a lot. I  miss the people with whom I laugh and I am alone without that special person I’d chosen to be with.  I have no close family. My dad died 6 months after I got back and my mother has dementia. I live in this rich person’s mausoleum, beset by rules and regulations and twitching net curtains [that we must legally all drape at our windows]  watching her deteriorate and cursing her for being such a drain on my already nearly flat battery.

In the lowest state of depression, nothing seems possible.  The work I did for years to help find myself and others do the same, with much success, is eluding me.

I am depressed and maybe twenty minutes after publishing this I won’t be.  In fact I’m editing this now feeling good about writing, but sensing the burden of forms unfilled, debtors chasing me, and an accumulation of burdens in one day that just seemed too much to handle.   Right now the boiler is broken, the car is broken and my mother is broken, and I feel broken too.  She sleeps and I don’t want her to wake because I don’t want to have to deal with nappies and shit and her need for much more care than I can offer her.

When you admit you’re depressed, even suicidal, some folk freak out.  It’s not easy to be around that energy.    Admitting to those kind of feelings in jail is also very dangerous.    I know, I learned quickly how to play the system.

Next Story > Jail Tales

 

 

 

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Paying it Forward – being good

servicetoothersPAYING IT FORWARD. When I got back from America, deported with one tiny suitcase [they wouldn’t allow my husband to put any cash in the case] after five months in jail, the only money I had was $2 given to me by a fellow deportee who was being sent back to Argentina after 23 yrs. His mother brought him over illegally and he was caught doing something silly. He said he was dreading the flight and had had nos sleep, so I gave him some sleeping pills [they let me take my ‘stash’ with me as it was prescribed].

He pulled out $2 and said take this.. my sister is meeting me and I’ll be fine. Arriving at the airport I was met by Karolina O’Donoghue someone I’d only met on facebook. It was 7.30 am and she had got up to do this. She gave me £50 and a pay as you go phone with credit on it. She took me on the train, paid for my fare, to my friend Lesley’s house. I will always remember the kindness of a stranger.

helping each otherI think I had to experience this rock bottomness [for me] to be blessed with this kindness. It opened my heart as did the many people who helped via the facebook page Help Free Sunny FoodisMedicine Soleil Today I found that phone and topped it up with credit. I will be giving it to the girl I’ve had staying here for a week or two.. she was homeless and we had a spare room. Thank you Karolina and thank you everyone who helped me at a very dark time in my life. Pierre Soleil

People who know me know that I am quite tough and have a harsh streak in me that does not tolerate liars and fudgers and hustlers. I can be kind, but I am not a bleeding heart. Sometimes I am not kind. I have a worldly experience not just from jail but from my previous life where I did not always do the right thing. And I have experience of many years of working with a powerful mentor who told me ‘do the right thing always’ leaving ME to decide what it is.

I also recognize that my adversity has softened me.. and blessed me. How could I not offer someone shelter when they are sleeping in the rain and winter is coming along. By giving this girl some stability and friendship I have seen the kind and generous side of her. I have not given her a key so she needs a phone to make sure I’m home and can let her in.

forestblackberries

My beloved picking blackberries in the farmers field next door to our home

My husband used to talk of ‘lost children’. He called me ‘lost’ at times. I see that now. He also talked of service to others which has been his trademark since he was a child. His generosity knows no measure but he is no fool. His anger also knows no measure when he sees people behaving with malice and selfish concern in the face of his generosity. He tests people. He can’t abide hypocrites. When they screw him, he continues to be kind and watches them. Most of them have no clue that he is extremely perceptive and intelligent and can see through everyone. I am not so kind and I admire this ability in him greatly.

Camp cooking on the woodstove

The stove I sent my beloved. And he was given a beautiful wood stove for the RV by lovely kind folk.

And at the same time as some people con him and take his stuff [food stores, equipment you name it others have hoarded it and return it with stuff missing and fudged excuses, whilst pretending to help him and going to church and calling themselves good Christians, Others who ARE good Christians and some who don’t even profess to be religious are showing him immeasurable kindness. People either shine in the presence of goodness or they become more demonic. It is a great test of character. Being religious does NOT make you a good person. Being a good person does!

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