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

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Sanitary Pads make great Swiffers!

Women--no matter where they may be--can be very creative.

While we are in this Intake and Reception building (before we are moved "on-grounds" to our final destination prison) we have very few choices of things to buy on our Commissary list. We can get personal items such as deodorant, shampoo, soap, conditioner, hair grease, oral hygiene necessities, paper, pens and envelopes, and up to six each of candy bars, chips, and soda. No razors, tweezers, make-up, extra clothing, hats, gloves, or any items of comfort. Our families are allowed to send us only letters, books, and magazines.

With no razors or tweezers there's an awful lot of body hair growth. Unibrows, upper lip and chin stubble are not uncommon. There is absolutely nothing sharp anywhere to use for hair removal, but there are several women who have become hair removal artists! Believe it or not, their hair removal product is a simple piece of string. During recreation time these hair removal artists are busy with "clients" the entire hour. They tie the ends of the string to make a big circle, then twirl it around three times and hold it in their first three fingers. Using the right finger movements they are able to sculpt eyebrows, remove facial hair, and 'shave' legs.

One girl named Babycakes is an expert at string hair removal, and is paid well for her work. Giving anyone any of your possessions earns you a major ticket for "Trafficking and Trading." Babycakes charges an envelope/Write Out for eyebrows, and an envelope plus candy or chips for upper lip or chin hair. This may be prison, but she says nobody has ever cheated her out of her payment. In spite of the constant vigilance of the guards, she also has never been caught collecting her "pay."

Another necessity that most women miss is make-up. No problem. They moisten an M&M in their color choice, and rub that across their eyelids for eye shadow. It actually lasts a long time! Blue is the most popular color, and I order M&Ms because I know I can trade my blue ones for something good. Some women prefer the bright yellow and orange "eye shadow." I can only imagine how they make themselves up in the real world. Pencils and pens are used for eyeliner. Dampen a red colored part of a cheap magazine and you have lipgloss and blush. The concrete between the bricks is used to file nails.

We get to clean our rooms on Saturdays-- if the officer on duty feels like taking the time to walk room to room with the spray bottles of bleach, sanitizer, and the broom. Actually, the bootcamp inmates carry the cleaning materials from room to room, but the officer has to walk along so nobody is given any extra bleach or sanitizer. We don't have paper towels or rags to clean with, and are supposed to use toilet tissue to wipe off the sprayed surfaces. That's where sanitary pads come in handy. They are great to clean floors, walls, and other surfaces with. Kind of like Swiffers, the cleaning product. And, in spite of the rules, the bootcamp girls are willing to give a few extra sprays of bleach onto as many pads as we want so we can wipe down and disinfect surfaces more than once a week. And the best part is that most of the officers are male, and never argue when an inmate says she needs another bag of sanitary pads.

My prison legacy? I realized that the metal edges of the bunk beds rust to the point where there are some sharp parts. I always wear straight bangs to cover my wrinkled forehead, and was worried when they grew too long. When I discovered the sharp, rusty bed edges, I dragged my bangs back and forth across them. I was able to cut them that way! My bangs were now short again. When others noticed, I told them how to do it, and haircuts became possible.

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