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7 Years-one Day at a Time

7 Years-one Day at a Time

Seven years ago I woke up (read: came to) in a jail cell. I had a foggy and faint memory of how I had gotten there. In the milliseconds before I opened my eyes I was wishing that it had been all a dream- that when I open my eyes I would really be home. But that didn’t happen. I wasn’t home. I was in a Pasco county jail cell.

The guy next to me had shoulder length curly hair and it was matted with his own dried vomit. The guy on the other side of me was using the toilet paper roll as a pillow-which meant that there was probably a toilet on the other side of that short brick wall.

The man across from me and very few teeth. He had hands like baseball mitts. I don’t mean the big outfielders mitts, I mean the old-style early 1900s baseball mitts- the kind that just look like giant leather five finger gloves. He had these huge swollen, calloused, black stained hands. All I could figure was that he was a mason or road worker who refused to wear gloves. I mean I would be surprised if he had any sensation at all in those things. Me? I had short messy black hair. Swollen red eyes, and not a lot else going for me. The one thing we all had in common were denim jumpsuits with the word INMATE down the leg and a cold zipper pressing on our bare skin and chafing our necks.

We also wore denim slip on shoes. There were definitely lefts and rights, but not necessarily pairs.

Breakfast was a piece of white bread, hard-boiled egg, half pint of milk in a small carton, a small box of cornflakes all wrapped up together in a plastic bag All of those plastic bags were inside a larger plastic bag that was basically put inside the room for us.

The man who had been resting on our toilet paper, quite inconsiderately, showed what a rebel he was by pouring his cornflakes all over the ground. It was quite funny how four drunks in a drunk tank daintily and carefully began cracking their hard-boiled eggs along the bench we had all been sitting on. All four hardluck drunks then began to peel the eggs and put the shells in our respective plastic bags. It seemed that concrete hands over there, had had dexterity after all.

Oh yeah, there was another younger college kid there. But his mom came and paid the $500 to bail him out. All I kept thinking was, “what a waste of money.”

The story, of course, gets better. Seven years to the day I have never had a drink. I’ve also never had a cigarette. I smoke some wonderful cigars, however. And that’s different. Yes it is.

I love to remember that fun night in the drunk tank. I love to remember all the war stories from my drunken days. They’re laughable now.

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Posted by on February 17, 2014 in 10 Minute exercises

 

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You Don’t Measure Cold – Friday Fictioneers

This is the photo prompt for Madison Woods’s Friday Fictioneers.

There is no measure of cold

Ice is a sign of a lack of heat.

 

It’s not easy to talk. It used to be so warm. I can’t talk anymore, not to you. I may not be able to even look at you. It just feels so cold. I wonder How I can put it into words. Yeah, I know I can’t. I can only measure to what degree there is still heat. Maybe that’s where I start. Stop focusing on when and where thing went wrong and how long they will stay this way. There is a degree of heat left. I just can’t seem to see through the pain. You can’t measure coldness.

 

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Dust Me with Sugar and Throw Me to the Diabetics

There is something to be said about the power of rehabilitation. There’s also something to be said about the power of logical consequences. Rehabilitation is meant to be the logical consequence of error. Certainly there will always be some penalty, but the ultimate goal is rehabilitation, otherwise you may just keep doing it again.

Now, I’ve heard of judges who receive kickbacks from companies whose product is made in the prison systems. These judges keep offenders and even children in correctional facilities so they can keep working in the salt mines and get the kickbacks. Those judges will have a logical consequence as well but more likely just penalty.

If I can define logical consequence for a moment, I believe it’s having some sort of reaction which is directly related to the action. If you start a food fight you can’t eat in the cafeteria with the rest of the kids. I’m not sure I subscribe to making a kids smoke a whole carton of cigarettes when they get caught smoking, but you get the idea. I also like the idea of making the person a part of the process. if a young man in one of my classes or if one of my Conservative Hippyism protégés is caught telling lies, their tongue is cut out and they are made to wear it around their neck as an amulet. Actually I just prefer making them slaves to the class at the expense of their fellows. And if they rat on somebody else they get to go free. Maybe if somebody just says the word “sandwich” too many times and I don’t let them eat any sandwiches, is that logical? Maybe if somebody refuses to take care of themselves I create a law that forces everybody else to. Sure, that sounds logical. Some consequences for other people are determined by a third-party altogether. Maybe I’ll just mediate and call myself a peacemaker. I’ll sit between the transgressor and the person who thinks they’re a victim, I’ll negotiate a deal between the two and take a piece of the satisfaction myself. I’ve added and nothing but cost and no value to the equation. I’ll submit no product but demand payment from one party and demand no products but ensure payment to the other, that sounds like logical consequences, doesn’t it?

I was volunteering at a local rehabilitation center. This is a center which is voluntary. Sure, some of them have gotten a nudge from a judge, but it is not locked down and they entered willingly. They are being treated at the expense of the county. I was talking to one young man who was about to get out. He was asking me if I knew anybody  “on the outside” who would be willing to take a phone call from time to time. I was in the middle of giving him a phone number when the assistant director interrupted. He assured me that he wanted to use a few moments at the beginning of the meeting I was about to have with a group and get them riled up in a positive manner. How could I say no? Here was an actual professional while I am a volunteer, asking to shed some positive experience.

As it turned out, every single worker and every counselor, except the director showed up in the room. The immediately spoke down to the group. A lot of negative hustling and herding of people. They asked them when humor was appropriate and when humor was inappropriate. I knew right then I was in trouble. I was sitting in a room of alcoholics and addicts with a handful of days of sobriety, and the staff was about to play a shell game. I noticed that there were cut out paper ghosts around the group room. Each ghost had been assigned a name of a person in that room. The high crime which the staff was addressing had to do with somebody taping a picture of a cigarette onto one of the ghosts. This horrific act of maleficence was assumed to be in retribution for the person represented on that ghost having smoked a cigarette indoors and gotten everybody’s smoking privileges taken away for a day. Again I harken back to logical consequences: the one person who smokes got the rest of the groups smoking privileges revoked. Apparently the story goes deeper and she was only suspected of smoking indoors-there were no witnesses and there was no proof. The taping of the cigarette picture to the ghost was an accusation by a culprit. The staff all stood there in front of the room, and me, demanding that the Dastardly Picture Taper come forward. (insert Arlo Guthrie’s description of the Thanksgiving Day Massacree here) When no one did, the assistant director, who by now had lost all credibility with me, called the person “gutless” and insisted that since there was a picture of a cigarette taped to a ghost, that they would lose all smoking privileges – everyone of them, again. Good thing no one taped a picture of a toilet.

The witch-hunt began. People were pointing one another out and accusing each other. It had become a joke. A few of the people who wanted to seem extremely virtuous, started giving speeches about “manning up “and “Remembering our lessons of honesty.” It was all to no avail. Nobody stepped up, manned up, or fessed up. The staff left the room and the assistant director looked at me, pointed one finger at me and a thumb to the sky and said, “good luck!” I wonder why not offering a safe place to be vulnerable and trusting wasn’t

And God is mad at you too……

offered. Maybe he forgot his lesson on honesty, and the prerequisite vulnerability, safety and trust.

If you’ve never been in a room full of newly sober alcoholics and addicts in a treatment center who just lost their smoking privileges, I suggest it at least once before you die. Then again if you’ve been in a room full of teenagers who just been told that none of their homework for the week counts and recess has just been canceled, you may be exempt. If you’ve ever been covered in bacon and thrown in a room of vegetarians, you may be exempt. If you’ve ever been sheep sitting at a table of wolves discussing what’s for lunch, you may be exempt. If you watched the presidential debates and just couldn’t muster up the energy or determination to join in on a conversation about it at work the next day because it made you lose your appetite, you may be exempt. If you sat through any of the presidential or vice president of debates are still considering voting for any of those jackasses, not only are you not exempt you need to be in one of these rooms.

 

What else may qualify you for exemption, love to hear the ideas!

 

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Pathway: A 100 Word Story

PathwayEvery Wednesday Madison Woods provides a prompt for writing. Every Friday she shares all the entries which have been posted on her comments section, with a link back to the original. It’s a great activity and I am jumping on board. As opposed to jumping on, bored.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo prompt for 6/13

 

102 words

My horse must think it queer, to have left him home and attempted this uphill path alone. I’m  first to travel this way or there would be no path to follow, right? What the hell, one foot in front of the other I say.  I am beginning to say anywa..what was that noise?! I am alone in the woods trying to be the first up the mountain and reserve my camping site at the top. What is that noise? It’s not a howl. A whistle? An unintentional whistle?  Some hot air escapes from a tight space, and where is it coming fro

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2012 in 10 Minute exercises

 

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I Remember -10 minute exercise

I remember the really hot days in our huge backyard.  Some summers we had a slip and slide,  some summers we had enough clean mud (clean mud has no rocks or bricks or pesky grass to impede your slide). One summer we had garbage bags at the end of a metal slide, we must have had that hose running down the slide and into the mud-pool for hours. I know we started with the sun up, and ended when the sun was down. Our back yard served as a mini ball field, playground, festival grounds, and parking lot in the summer.

The small cement platform in front of the detached garage was a basketball key. My cousin and his friends used to build ramps in the backyard to launch their BMX’s. In my memory, they launched those bikes as high as the rotten apple tree in the corner of the yard. Those apples were born rotten and grew that way and until they were swatted like baseballs over the fence and into the street. I’m sure there is a metaphor for the rest of this story somehow. I remember having bitten one or two-to no avail. That huge backyard also had a metal woodshed in the other back corner, and it was always full of wood. For a decade it was full of wood. I know we had a chimney in the house, it protruded from the roof, announcing the house’s age and tradition. Any fireplaces there once were had long been removed before they were ingrained in my memory. I remember all that wood being removed at one point as well. Bicycles being were then stored in it. The huge garage had become an unfit place for them.

That garage was half automotive laboratory and half butcher shop. There were auto body parts and evidence of carnage and engine torture devices hanging from the walls. Pools of oil from poor cars  -I seem to remember at least two orange tanked Triumphs- being subjected to mediocre auto craftsmanship. The butcher shop half, was lined with wipe-clean white plastic panelling, and had been used for butchering at one point. This at least was the explanation given when the dogs would dig up jaw bones from the “dog area.” This was the off-limits area between the two sheds, where the dogs would often do their business. The slip and slides and mud pits would certainly not be set up there. Any balls, kicked batted, or bounced, would be declared foul. It was certainly the potential condition when they had been retrieved.

All of this comes back to me as I wound up the garden hose today. I smelled that warm rubbery water that used to be just fine and acceptable to live on from April until September.

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2012 in 10 Minute exercises

 
 
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