The Felonious PhD.

White Collar Female PhD. Felon, Prison Camp, Re-Entry, Criminal Justice Reform. Women, Lesbian

I Still Cannot Believe I Am In Prison…..10 Months Later!

I still wake up every day in complete shock!  Well, not really a traumatic type of shock, but the kind of shock where I look around and the fog, my “White Collar Female Fog,” is not yet armed and loaded to get me through the day.  I mindfully will myself into that fog in an effort to keep my analytic mind in neutral.  But when I first open my eyes and gaze up at the exposed pipes, for a moment I am still dazed and confused.

Today, I have a sense of humor about my current state of affairs.  I am in prison and I didn’t even have the opportunity to be a “real felon” and “enjoy” the life that financial crime would have  involved.    No planned business deal where I was conniving and deceitful and living a glamorous life with all the money I supposedly swindled.  I mean, no drug dependency or periods of selling drugs. No murder or aggravated assault.  Truly, it hardly seems fair for someone like me to be called a felon and carry all of the ramifications of being disenfranchised and discriminated against and get NO  “street cred” at all!!  A nerdy felon! So dumb!  Even my criminal story is so boring that I don’t even repeat it anymore because people get a dazed look that says, “You are LYING!”

I have thought about just creating a good criminal history and story to tell when others are talking about why they are here.  But, once again, I do not want to put that type of energy out in the universe.  Then I think, “Heck!  What could happen to me?  I AM IN PRISON!”  Yea, it is a camp!  But the fundamental principles of lost freedom and the burden of a life-long “felon” label will follow this nerdy, peaceful, foster-mom, PhD, forever.

After 10 months, I have surrendered to the fact that I am here.  By surrendering, I mean that instead of daily emotional breakdowns, disgust, and anger, I have infrequent bouts of, “What in the hell is wrong with my country?”  I will never belong here, but like many of the other women here, I will survive and proceed onward to excel somehow.  After everything I have been through in my life, this can’t be the climax of my story!  Whew….at least I hope it is not!

I am thankful for my friend who continues to give me a voice and reminds me to go back into the “fog” on the days that I wake up in shock and struggle to extricate myself from my ever-present disbelief.

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James Baldwin’s Eyes…………………………. 90 years old!

Those eyes-I can see what you feel

and I feel the same

Attempting with all that I am to utilize

the power of words

to liberate my crying soul.

 

Those eyes-Will never allow me to relinquish my power

as an artist

They bestow on me the promise

to dispell my truths

good and bad

at whatever cost

to my self.

 

Those eyes-Are familiar eyes

the ones that I saw as a child

that spoke without speaking

and searched without seeking

only having to stop, listen and be true

to self.

 

Those eyes-Captivate, motivate,

stimulate and galvanize

my inner being

to move past these atrocious moments with

grace, dignity and an intellectual

soul.

 

Those eyes-Articulate excactly what I am enduring

and

provide me with a road map to

securing my own

freedom.

 

Those eyes-embody the power to extract

every last drop

of this experience

no matter if it is

bitter or sweet.

 

James Bladwin’s eyes-Are my mirror, my hope, my dreams,

my history, my present, my future

My Destiny!

 

Aug 2014

the felonious phd.

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Other People Matter…..Thanks Coach!

It’s not too often that I am caught emotionally off guard.  But as I was sitting in the visiting room listening to my college basketball coach, Coach King, update me on what has been going on with him over the past month, it hit me!  This man has been part of my life for about 30 years!  Oh My Gosh!!

Being my ornery, prideful self, I have not stopped to think that people are going to feel differently about me since I am now a “felon.”  I am quick to write others off and I do it in a loving manner, but just as i was talking to Coach about my visit with my son, mother, and Deb, I realized that I may not have had my parents in my life as I was growing up, but I have been surrounded by some incredible loving and kind people.  Immediately, I felt a sense of relief about Aaron not having me in his life for about 23 months.  He has some incredible people surrounding him as well.  

I would never with this experience on anyone.  I do, however, want to tell people who are unfortunate enough to be involved in the criminal justice system that our children will be fine.  As long as they have the love and support of others, and know that we are okay, they can and will excel.  

Coach King has played many roles in my life….. well shoot, for many of the young women he has raised on and off the court.  I am not happy about him having to visit me in this environment.  It is far from ideal!  But, no matter how tough I am, and how grown I become, I still love the fact that he takes time out of his day to come and simply say Hello!  Thanks Coach!  I hope you realize that WE all love you!  

I am forever thankful for the wonderful people I have in my life.  Not just those that visit, but also those that pray, those that write, those that help with my son and everyone that loves and respects me.  Thank you!!

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Who Cares?……..I Get It!

Many of the women in the Federal Prison Camp do not care very much about the news.  I seriously get their reluctance to listen to the ills of our communities and society.  For me, I just feel the need to remain connected to the pain of our society.  Although I am acutely aware of the limitations that our televised news has in what is truthful, fully, or accurately reported.

Often, after watching the morning news here in Federal Prison Camp, I feel an intense need to formulate a plan to help those who seem so lost and disenfranchised.  I know that sounds crazy coming from an inmate, felon, ugly green man uniform, woman who is trapped by her government; but it is my truth.  I can’t help it!  My anguish with sitting here is that as I sit and watch while young people are killing or being killed…..I know I can help.  I know I cannot perform miracles but damn it, I know I can make a difference in a few young people’s lives.   I know, because I did, with no scheme or plan for financial gain.

As I listen to “grown folks” discuss the incidents and tragedies that involve young people, I heat the blaming, cruelty, disgust, disdain, and irreverence.  My first thought is, “Well, hell, now I know where they learn it.”

I watch the news every morning for two hours after my daily two-mile walk.  The news is not informative to me.  It is actually a catalyst for validating my next plan!  Even as I sit in this hell, it is clear to me that I have to re-enter my community being more of my loving self.  I have to create an environment that encourages self-love, love for others, humanity, happiness, peace, and mindful freedom for young people.

I understand why many would rather not connect to the pain and sadness that is witnessed daily on the news, especially since we are trapped in a space where it takes every bit of yourself to smile or even wake up and put one foot in front of the other.  I GET IT!  I also get that without people like me, our communities and society will continue to fail at giving our young people hope, dreams, or options for how to operate mindfully in this world.  I believe in the concept of a village, and our village is failing!

I am thankful for the opportunity to plan for my next.  The clarity of purpose, energy, and time to love myself has made this experience worthwhile for me.  I will never own or respect the means by which others have treated me, defamed me, wrongly characterized my village/business, but I will always respect the journey!

 

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A Mother’s Love…..I Got to See my Sonny!!!

I had a wonderful visit this past weekend with my mom, Deb, and most of all my Sonny. Today, as I sit outside here at the Federal Prison Camp, my heart is full. It is full of love and peace. I love being Aaron’s mom, and out of all of my achievements I have to say being his mom is my greatest yet!

During our visit on Saturday and Sunday, all I could think about was how mature he was getting physically as well as emotionally. He is getting so big……or I am shrinking!! lol. As a mother who is incarcerated, the number one stressor is his safety and well-being . Are his basic needs being met? Because of his older brother Daniel and Nicole and the rest of our family I have to say his basic needs are being met and then some. That makes me happy. As a mindful mother, who is also a clinician, I am also concerned about and will remain acutely aware of how this is/will impact him emotionally. Will it make changes to his core self? I have so much experience with young people whose parents were absent, and was a child with absent parents, that I always want to acknowledge and address anything that may arise for him in regards to my incarceration. But thus far, from what I could see and hear during our first visit in nearly nine months, he is truly and consistently himself. For that I am relieved and thankful. Aaron knows he is loved and that I want nothing more than to be home doing whatever he needs done. Including his dirty laundry….which he informs me he will cease doing for himself once I return. lol.

I so desperately want to be home actively being his mother. I did get to rub his head!!!! Yay!!! That is my favorite. Although he was tired of my kisses, he welcomed the head-rubbing. My big young man. I miss him deeply. I never took my role as his parent lightly. It has always been serious business to me. Now being away from him and knowing that I will not be able to get these 22 to 27 months back, it encourages me to continue to move through this process lovingly. I do not want to return home to him angry or vengeful. I will leave this camp as I came… a loving, caring, confident, powerful, passionate, woman and mother. I will make sure I am ready to re-enter his life productively despite this environment and this demeaning process.

This environment does nothing to remind women who have children that they are mothers 110% of the time not just when you have visits or when you return home. The art of Mothering is ongoing and requires us to consciously and actively continue to nurture that part of ourselves. I am thankful for my son. I am very thankful to my Mom and Deb for bringing him to visit.

I miss and love you Sonny! Keep being you, you are WONDERFUL!!!

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Eight Months in an Alternate Existence that I Will Never Understand…and That’s Okay!

Eight months gone; honestly, I have a difficult time saying where it went.  I think that because I have always marked my space in time with experiences that have traditionally been connected to my loved ones , it has been strange being untethered from my crew.  Mostly, I miss my son. I just do not feel in my heart and soul that a child should be separated from their mother for this nonsense.  That, I will never reconcile with, and I have to be okay with that too.  Other than my own personal turmoil about missing some of his young, precious life, I am okay!

For the past month, I have mindfully re-framed this process for myself.  It may be a coping skill I have perfected, but I want to consciously and authentically express how profoundly this experience affects the human soul-a good soul, a loving, caring, thoughtful, intelligent soul.  It gives me something cognitive to focus on and it also provides me an opportunity to share these feelings with all who care.  I am opening up my soul to this experience, fully vulnerable, alert, and actively asking myself the difficult questions as I move through the next few months.

My first question, which cracks me up, is “What in the world was I thinking when I voluntarily walked myself into this captivity?”  If this system views me as a criminal or a threat to my community, unlawful (Ha!), then why would they TRUST me to walk into the lion’s den?

Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful I had the opportunity to walk in as I will be able to walk out (if the arthritic knee doesn’t worsen, haha) on my own! It is just that eight months into this ridiculousness, that just speaks again to the fact that our justice system has alternative means by which to make its point.  So why do we incarcerate so many people?  And once we are incarcerated, then what?  I am creating my own purpose in here, many don’t have that ability.

There are so many issues that can be discussed with our system and many have and still are on the forefront of championing legislative changes.  For me, someone who is currently trapped here at the Federal Prison Camp, I am concerned about how people exit from this environment.  How do we remain whole and sane and able to have access to the American Dream…..however that is defined anymore….

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