Some people live in a world that the rest of us can't even begin to recognize.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Day 18: possessions

I'll admit it. I love to shop. I love to have things. I love to have new things. That hobby of mine has sure been stifled in prison. I'm wearing clothes that are beyond hand-me-down status, eating off trays that have been filled and emptied hundreds (thousands maybe?) of times, and eating with a spork that has been in more mouths than I care to imagine. Who knows how many people have slept on this mattress, pillow, and sheets? Don't even remind me that the prison population has probably not had the best lifetime health care. (My roommate is the perfect example, although I think half her illnesses are imaginary.)

For some silly reason I liked having my drinking cup as my primary possession while in the county jail. I can live like a monk, void of material goods, for, oh, maybe a week or so. But this is getting ridiculous. We are not allowed to be sent any of our own possessions. I've been wondering about what kind of "stuff" I'm allowed to have here, but there's no Prison 101 course where they explain things like that to you.

So I was thrilled today when I got a letter from my husband. I had been able to call home a few times on the phones from county jail. Here in prison there are no phone privileges. My wonderful husband had called and spoken with many people at the prison to learn the answers to so many questions that both he and I have had. (While the officers treat us like crap, non-inmates are welcome to call, speak to anyone-- including the warden-- and are actually treated nicely!) His letter said that I was currently detained in the "intake and reception" building of the state's department of corrections, that I would remain in solitary confinement (with my roommate) until I was medically cleared, then be moved to another wing of that same building. They told him that after a few weeks in the medically cleared wing the state would decide where I would go to serve the remainder of my sentence. And, no. Nobody believed him when he told them I am innocent.

My husband's letter also told me he could send me letters and books, but nothing else. He'd already ordered several puzzle books that I should get soon! I love doing puzzles, but wondered how I'd do them without a pencil. My husband also told me he had given my prison address out to friends and coworkers so they could write me. WHAAAAAAT? I don't want anyone to know where I am since I'm planning on being home soon. Then I will have a big party and announce the big mistake the state had made and we'd all have a big laugh.

Perhaps good luck does come in bunches. Soon after I received my husband's letter, there was a knock on the cell door. It was the prison chaplain asking if we'd like any Christian reading material or prayers. I got a Bible and several daily prayer books, while my roommate got some Christian fiction novels. The chaplain said individual prayers for both of us, and I sat holding my new possessions-my husband's letter, my new Bible and my prayer books. I was so happy with my new 'stuff,' that I felt like I had won the lottery. The reality that a person's perception of their emotional and personal wealth depends upon their present situation hit me like a ton of bricks. But why did I have to come to prison to discover that fact?

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