Saturday, May 23, 2009

tired, grateful

I have been struggling with feelings of despondency and tiredness. We're approaching the halfway mark of our son's incarceration- at the least the halfway mark of parole eligibility, and I'm ready for this to be done. In his last letter Bran mentioned going on Lexapro again because he is having a hard time feeling motivated to do anything. He forgets things, sleeps because there is nothing else he can do to shut it out and simply tries to pass time. I understand. I felt better, though, when he sent a work check home and asked us to save them for him to buy a car when he gets out. He's thinking about things beyond prison and I'm grateful.

I was also grateful this morning speaking to him on the phone. It's little things that remind me how he has changed despite the struggle to continue to endure. He basically works what amounts to a second shift in the prison, which cuts his yard (outdoor) time considerably. But he said it's been nice the past week or so, when he gets off shift, to slowly walk outside to his building and drink in the silence and the Allegheny mountain tree line through a gap in the buildings. Such a small thing, but so amazing. A tree lined mountain would never have been a hopeful thing and a pleasure to him five years ago. It is my prayer that neither of us will forget the lessons we are learning now.

Friday, May 01, 2009

latest letter

What I wish for...

Brandon has been pretty well occupied with trying to accept the price of commissary getting ridiculous, especially where tobacco products are concerned-I'm not minding that, he needs to quit smoking, however, it's a big issue. He was saving for a new TV (he's got an all clear plastic issue from county) and there aren't being sold anymore. What is being sold is a universal remote so that he doesn't have to continue to put wear on the buttons, which works as well for $11. Seems that every other inmate with a TV also thinks so, but he got on the list. Bran's prison laundry job is also keeping him busy, but not in the intended sense. Here's excerpts from the latest letter:

Oh! Did I tell you about how I was accused of stealing from a dead Fayette inmate? Probably did already. Anyway, when I started at CI (laundry, sorting soiled laundry from hospitals, etc.) back in Sept., 2nd shift Dirty Side guys kept their stuff (drink containers and mixes, gloves, apron/jumpsuit, etc.) in leftover net laundry bags locked in a shelving unit inside the chemical closet. A level of modest security in a world without privacy, I can appreciate it. For whatever reason, it became an issue (the 'chemical closet' is an over-glorified janitor's nook, anything remotely dangerous is in the back with boilers and detergent mixers behind at least 2 locked gates) so we had to move our things onto some wall hangers outside. There, it gets rummaged through on a daily basis. The bag I was given was yellow with a name partly blacked out, but sill quite legible, on the tag. I figured he was a former employee and never gave it a second thought.

One day, MONTHS after getting the damn thing, Ken "Il Duce" Plummer calls me into his office after dinner. Mind you, I've been sneaking odds and ends out for myself and others (harmless crap, really), messing around, engaging in nutty activity. That day I think Plummer saw me riding a cart of mops across the floor, so when summoned my conscience was a trifle guilty. He then starts going on about complaints from SCI Fayette of a "Grand Theft Laundry Bags" caper that I'm apparently part of. "Where did you get that bag from? Was it an inmate or supervisor? Did you know inmate 'Stult' (guy on the tag) Where you aware that he was deceased?" Just grilling me. My boss, Knapp, thought it funny and was visibly amused. I was so stupefied by the allegation, I blanked out and nearly had a stroke. After the paralysis wore off, I was furious, rabid even. I grabbed the offending bag, dumped its contents on the ground, marched up to my co-workers, and launched into a diatribe, shaking the 'incriminating evidence' in their faces ands tabbing the air with outstretched index fingers reminiscent of Lewis Black. I'm sputtering "...of all the hair-brained...mental midgets!...bullshit accusations!..." After calming slightly, I was able to warn them to ditch all yellow net bags and that I may be fired over false charges of theft. Nothing came of it, but I was so angry because that's all it would have taken to lost my job! Also, their assumption that I'm retarded enough to steal something with someone else's name and state ID# on it, uncovered and out for all to see, with my name written next to it, linking me to the crime. Give me some friggin' credit!


Well, there's never a dull moment in mental midgetland. Poor Brandon. But these are the lessons he is learning, and I can't but feel he would not have learned them anywhere else.