I keep saying to myself that I need to start putting pictures in my posts. It's kind of hard to do with prison day posts, though, since they don't allow me to take anything inside (not even my clothes sometimes; I've had to have the chaplain run all over the prison to find me a pair of black pants that fit because the outfit I was wearing violated prison rules). I can't take anything that could potentially be taken from me - things that inmates find valuable. Things like... pieces of paper.
In any event, Monday was prison day. What a day it was.
To begin with, Hubster and I both fell asleep Sunday afternoon and didn't get up until around 7:00 p.m. Oh swell. I hadn't even packed yet for the trip, had no idea what I was going to wear, blah blah blah. So I threw some things together, took a shower, and two hours later, we set off.
Arriving at the motel at midnight doesn't bode well for any type of sleep. I was wide awake; Hubster can sleep anytime, anywhere. So while I sat there knitting and looking at the clock ticking the hours by, he was laying there snoring. Finally, at 5:00 a.m., I fell asleep. I never heard the phone for our 6:00 a.m. wake-up call, so it's a good thing he did and got me up. It took a half-hour for me to peel my eyes open (aided by a lot of ciggies and Coke); then I stumbled to the bathroom to get ready. That part went fine until I put on my outfit. It's a pants/top/long vest concoction that I bought in San Diego last year. It fit great then. Now it fit... uh... well... let's just say that I looked like a piece of overripe tropical fruit whose skin was about to burst. Great. I didn't have time to worry about it, so I threw the stuff I needed in my flute bag and we took off - at 8:00 a.m.
Getting there was non-eventful; however, once I got there, I had to go to the admin building for new chits. They're these little round brass tags which have your name stamped on them. You hand them to the guard at the final checkpoint to receive your keys and emergency siren. I had been using the chaplain's extra chits, so this was the first time I had my own. Of course, they kept me in there for almost half an hour while the dipshit guard was looking for them. Once I had those in my hand, I went hiking.
Stupid me didn't realize that Monday was a state holiday - Cesar Chavez Day - so the inmate taxi wasn't running, the parking lot was empty, and I was on my own. I got no more than 20 feet when I realized that I was in trouble. I fell five times before I even made it to the A/B sally port because I couldn't walk. It was a combination of not having slept and being sick, but I had to get there. So I stumbled, stopped, rested, stumbled some more, and finally got to the sally port. Halfway there. I got through the metal detector, gathered up my shit, and set out for the second half of the journey. The only way I could make it was to put my head down and trudge without looking at the cellblock WAYYYYYYY in the distance. Fuck.
I finally got to the block, exchanged my new shiny chits for my keys and alarm, and shoved my way out the last door. I saw my boys walking around the track, so I hollered at them. They turned around, took one look at me, and hotfooted their way over to my side. It was a good thing, too. I took one step and my legs went out from under me.
It was like I was ascending into the clouds. I was suddenly lifted in the air by four strong arms - two around my waist from each side and one on each arm - and they carried/walked me to the chapel. The guards must know that we have an unusual relationship because they didn't intervene. Being overly friendly with the inmates is one of the things they'll throw you out for.
While fumbling with the keys to open the chapel door, I dropped the siren, popping the back off it. All the guys jumped like I had jabbed them in the ass with a cattle prod. They get really nervous around those sirens because they're REALLY loud; when one goes off, all the guards from everywhere come running. They didn't particularly want to be thrown on the ground, cuffed, and put in the cages.
Once inside the chapel, I found out that my class had been cancelled because I was more than a half hour late. The chaplain wasn't there (again), so I had to call the guard tower, the captain of the guards, and finally the lieutenant. They wouldn't release the rest of my class, so I had my four regulars.
We convened in the office and decided that since it was just us, we would sit around and shoot the breeze for two hours. Then they proceeded to gift me with some healing items they had made for me - two medicine bags and a special stone. Because they're considered religious items, the men are allowed to buy things like beads and beading supplies, herbs (not the fun type), leather, etc. One is a beaded bag that hangs around my neck. It's actually the first bag one of my boys made and has been through many ceremonies. He had a dream where he saw me wearing it, so now I am. The other is a leather bag tied shut with a thin strip of leather with an owl feather on the front. That one is supposed to stay near me. The man who made it whispered to me the words I'm to say to it should I need its' help (Apache words - they're a prayer), and gave me a picture of him. The stone came from my "hardest" man. He's tattooed from head to foot and looks every bit the biker who would rather shoot you than say hello. He wouldn't even give it to me himself; he had one of the others give it to me because he was too shy to do it himself. No matter - it's a tiger's eye that he's had for a very long time and a powerful healing tool. I gave them all big hugs, they chided me for even being there (and not having on a coat - I didn't need one, but they're like mother hens around me and are convinced that if it isn't 80 degrees out, I need a coat and hat), and we settled down to tell dirty jokes and just gab. The new boy (he's such a baby - 18 years old with a four-down) sat there quietly because he's new and also because it was a sign of respect for all of us. The others are teaching him how to act in prison - this poor thing looks so out of place in there. He looks like he should have a paper route or something. Anyway, we're the core of the group - the family.
When it was time to go, they did the same walking/carrying motion so I didn't fall again, got me to the door, and bade me good-bye. The walk out wasn't as bad - in fact, I was able to make it without any problems. I was loaded with enough medicine from them to walk through walls, so I'm sure that got me through the rest of the trip out. I made it to the truck, we went to breakfast, and it wasn't until my face fell forward and smacked right into my plate of eggs and linguisa that Hubster realized how tired I was. He got me in the truck, and I don't remember a thing until he said, "There's a HUGE box on the porch!", thinking that would snap me to attention. It didn't. Turns out that the huge box was full of flutes for my class, so I've got to make sure I have a ride in next time; otherwise, I can't carry them all. Maybe I should bring my eagle feather.
Then I can fly.