The Felonious PhD.

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

Paper Roses, Microwave Chocolates and Kool-Aid…………Valentines Day in Prison Camp

Yesterday was the nationally designated day of LOVE. Well needless to say, as I sit here at the Federal Prison Camp, it was a bit of a challenge for me to truly embrace the full meaning of the day. Also, I am not one who feels that one day is sufficient to tell those who are tethered to you that they are loved, to me that is a daily necessity.

The incredible thing about being around 100-plus women in a small area at this time is that I am afforded the opportunity to witness how truly incredible and resilient the woman spirit is no matter what the circumstances are at any given moment. Throughout the unit you could find small gatherings of women either making a variety of microwave chocolates, various colored paper roses or beautifully hand crafted Valentine cards to celebrate the day.

Being that we are in prison or let me clarify the prison camp, everyday is about us being subjected to deprivation, disenfranchisement and isolation from those we love, instead of enjoying our sweet treats with a nice crisp, fruity smelling wine, we are privy to partake in a nice cold plastic filled container of grape kool-aid. Yes, I said grape kool-aid and I have a big smile on my face! Life is good!(lol).

This is a period in my life that I will never ever forget. And I will always remind myself how important it is to love myself and tell others that they should practice self- love too. I will also remain cognizant of how incredibly creative, strong and powerful the woman spirit is no matter what is going on in my life. Being here I am forced to rely on my own strength and sense of self to wake up peaceful, sane and loving.

If you happen on this space and you are enduring a life-changing experience, are alone, isolated and feeling down, I am encouraging you to go buy yourself some Grape Kool-Aid and love on yourself. That is my plan for the day. I am thankful as always that, “I was born and raised to be who and where I am at any and every given moment”.

I LOVE YOU ALL!!!!

Happy Valentines Day!!!!!!

Felonious PhD. 2/2015

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Happy 15th Birthday……..Sonny!!!

I have never missed one of my son’s birthdays until now. It is truly one of the most difficult moments for me to think that he will celebrate, take pictures, create wonderful memories, and I will be absent. Prior to self-surrendering to Victorville Federal Prison Camp, I sat with my Public Defender while she calculated the period she thought I would be gone. Her calculations with “good time” and 6 months “halfway house” services came to 22 months. In calculating my time away from my son I began categorizing the events that are important in his life that I was going to be absent from during my incarceration. I knew that along with his entire sophomore school and football year I would be missing his 15th birthday.

Mothers at the camp do many things to get through the regular days here, and they also find ways to get through the holidays and birthdays in here. I know it is a day I will not get back and I also know that it will pass; but as I sit in this visceral, non-productive, irreverent, paternalistic environment doing absolutely nothing of value for myself, my community, or my son, I can not help but continue to question the motivation of our US Judicial System. I am missing my son’s birthday and I am acutely aware of the fact that most people think, “If you don’t want to do the time, don’t do the crime.” To that I respond that regardless of the “truth,” our wonderful, resourceful Country has many alternatives to incarcerating, non-violent, low-level, first time offending women, mothers, grandmothers, aunts and sisters.

There is no real intellectual reason for me to be absent from my son’s birthday or any other important parental responsibility that I have always attended to throughout his life. I mean, if a man can punch his wife, render her unconscious and still be free to harm again, that begs me to question why am I here? We all should be asking these questions. Who is privileged to get second chances and why?

The wonderful thing is that my son will have a great birthday even without me. He has an incredible support system and people who love him. We are very fortunate. Now as I approach the second half of this unreal journey in prison, I will have to beg, pray, and attempt to convince the staff here that I need halfway house services so that I can re-enter my community and my son’s life sooner than later.

Over the past 11 months I have learned that the system has no motivation to encourage or enhance mine or any of the women’s ability to re-enter successfully. That will be bad for business, so to speak. There is no fiscal motivation for decarcerating us, there is only monetary motivation for keeping us incarcerated as long as possible, we are numbers and bodies. So re-entry and recidivism will never be a real priority until the Government re-thinks and restructures its financial incentives to the BOP.

Today, I am thankful that I have a son who is intelligent, caring and resilient. He has not lost himself in this crisis and I have to make sure I follow his lead. Happy 15th Birthday, Son. I am so lucky to be your mom.

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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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Womanly Smile

WOMANLY SMILE

 

For years and for centuries we have hidden our pain

Tortured, abused, raped and misused

Our strength transcends and our power transforms

A womanly smile tells all……

 

An invisible force within a society minus us, has no foundation

Now imprisoned, in a misogynist storm

Disgraced, dehumanized, defeminized in a structurally oppressive–industry

Daily encouraging, empowering and acknowledging each other with

A womanly smile that connects us all….

 

Our truths, our stories and struggles to maintain our picture perfect lives

Gives strength to our power and passion to look towards our tomorrow

Sitting on pause, existing soulfully and intrinsically on energy of love

Wake up in the morning with nothing to offer, to give, to share but my-

Womanly smile that has the power to heal…….

 

the felonious phd.

August 2014

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Write It…….Someone Will Read It!

Just as I am convinced that my time here is completely meaningless and that I am bombarding my poor, busy, hard-working friend with numerous blogs in the mail that contain my ongoing angst-filled thoughts about my temporary space of nothingness, another woman walks into the camp and asks if anyone knows “The Felonious PhD.”  In the past two weeks, there have been three new campers who have approached me and proceeded to thank me for writing for this blog.  One even stated that my story is inspirational and helped her family with come to terms with the idea of her entering a Federal Prison Camp.  

I have to admit that although I am not happy when I hear the woman, Ms. P., over the intercom ask for a mentor to assist a new camper, it is encouraging to me to hear that the blog is serving some purpose other than providing me a platform to express myself.

It has been a few weeks since these women entered the camp.  They have told me that I explained the process to them on the blog accurately.  Also, that by providing them with some sense of familiarity with a system they have never been a part of has made the process a little easier.  There are a few more things I need to write about for new campers and I plan to do so soon.  my long-term goal is to write a book entitled, “The Indicted Soul,” which will discuss the horrendous emotionally draining process prior to entering the Federal Camp.

I am very thankful for the blog and my steadfast friend, Rebecca.  Friend you are helping more than just me!

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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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Today is a Tough Day….I am Going With It…..

As the endless month goes by, I have occasionally awakened in a mindset that puts me in intense, extreme and complete opposition to everything that is going on here.  The past few nights I have experienced dreams in regards to being in Reno, Nevada and being watched by the Feds.  Whenever I begin my morning with the absurdity of my reality and it seeps deeply in, even into my subconscious, I have a difficult time shaking it off and mindfully redirecting my thoughts.

Today my 2 mile walk was, once again, fueled by my inability to be available for my son.  I am taking the tragedy of being an absent parent seriously and will forever remind all…..this is a fundamentally UN American act and I feel like a terrorist who has been banished to Git-mo. ….except I have not harmed ANYONE.  So, needless to say, I am beyond dramatic and feel so incontrovertibly abused by the system because I am separated from my number one responsibility in the world….my son.

As the Government is politically posturing and advocating for keeping immigrant families together, they are on the other hand destroying my American family. And nobody, absolutely nobody, discusses, boycotts, videotapes or reports about our white-collar, non-violent, spotless backgrounded, mothers’ plight.  My American family is facing a tragedy also.  I feel for all kids who are without their mom.  Today as I sit subjugated in this soulless, paternalistic, irreverent environment, my heart cries out to my own son.  I love you Sonny!  This will all be over eventually.

I am thankful that my son has a foundation of love and is a big, loving, caring soul.  I am also eternally grateful that he has other caring family members to reassure him, guide him, love him, provide for him, nurture him, and reassure him that he will be okay and this too shall pass!

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This Time In My Life…

There are many things to cope with when moving through this process; as I navigate my way through it I am always thinking, theoretically speaking, about how I can intellectually and socially make a difference even though I’m stuck here.  Being in the midst of mid-life, a period when most people are contemplating what regrets they have, or what remains on their bucket list, I am asking myself what do I want to do when I grow up?

I become very apprehensive when I begin thinking about the array of problems that plague this system and all of the subsystems related to it.  These problems also plague women’s vision of themselves as a result of being part of it.  Similar to being a champion for change in the child welfare cause, it would take an inordinate amount of vigilance to ever scratch the surface and bring about change or rectify all of the problems in this system.  I have thought so far as…..I should run for office.  I have nothing to hide!  Being a voice is not enough though; you have to be at the table, sit right in front of people with similar level of power.  This I know for sure!  Then I immediately remember how BEING the change I desired to see in child welfare only opened me up to scrutiny, other people’s jealousy and weakness, and now prison.

There has to be a social movement.  Not an individual desire to make change “stick.”  As I sit in this camp and watch the news, or eaves drop on conversations, I see that we are far from a social movement.  We are so afraid, and I get that. Whew…do I get that!  Because one of my biggest fears throughout my life was the fear of getting into trouble.  So I avoided trouble, didn’t do anything that would get me in trouble…..what a joke!  I now know that doing the safe thing does not protect you, and I am living proof of that.

My next phase of life will be spent living fearlessly.  What more can be done to me?

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No More Tears…

I have been here at the Victorville Federal Prison Camp for 90 days and a day.  I want everyone who has the opportunity to read my blog to know that…… I MISS MY FAMILY!  I miss my sisters!

I miss calling my sister Mooneyes daily and hearing her calm, silent, strong, passionate voice.  I miss her telling me what the full moon tells us this month.  I miss having her reassurance that everything, in the end, will be okay.  Actually, she reminds me of my ability to shine even in darkness and promises me that like the sun, I will rise again and this time brighter than ever.  I miss her gentle yet strong spirit and sharing a glass of sake with her as I eat a chunk of meat and she munches on something natural and healthy.

I miss my loud sister Tonya.  I miss her calling me 10 to 15 times a day asking me what I am doing. I always quickly responded by saying, “The same thing i was doing five minutes ago, crazy.”  I miss her yelling at her kids, grown kids, as she talks to me on the phone.  i miss her!  I miss her fly-by visits.  Her running through the door to say “Hi” and then in the blink of an eye she’s screeching out of the driveway.  I miss her!  I even miss yelling at her every time she asks me for “spare change.”  “What in the hell?” I would say.  I miss her.

I miss my chocolate, dimpled sister Beatrice.  Like me, she has no fear and will do what she has to do.  I miss her!  I miss hearing her cheerful voice and loud laugh which can quickly switch to a soft marshmellow side.  I miss her.  I miss hearing her stories about her adventures in Atlanta, her crazy job, and how the girls are doing.  I miss them.  i miss telling her to take her butt to school and hering her tell me some story about why she has not done so yet!  I miss her!

I miss my baby sister Carita!  I miss doing her laundry and cooking for her as she cared for her baby.  I miss our laugh sessions and t.v. watching on the big screen. ( I miss that t.v. lol)  I miss our discussions about change and moving forward.  The possibilities of tomorrow.  I miss her.  I miss planning her next move with her, because I know that she will retreat to the safety of her nest.  I miss her.  I miss talking about the kids and laughing about my crazy nephew Aidan’s, antics, Kaity’s growing up and Jacob’s ability to handle everyone’s personalities without cracking.  I miss them and her.  I miss holding baby Viv as Carita ran to Wal Mart quickly wishing she would hurry back as Viv, then 2-3 months old, would scream her head off for her mama.  I miss her and them.

I miss my niece Unique calling me to find out what’s for dinner…..every day!  LoL  I miss her wanting to borrow everything, from some chicken to flour, to a skillet to cook it in.  I miss her.  I miss her running into the door whining and complaining about her mama and having to remind her that she is grown and it is no longer called running away from home for her.  it is called ‘growing up’.   LoL  i miss her.

I miss my niece Kimi.  I miss her impromptu visits as well as her planned ones when we would eat, drink, and laugh.  I miss her.  I miss her old soul conversations and her ability to say, “You are right.”  I miss her. I miss baby X coming through the door and immediately stripping down to his undies as he ran to the snack cabinet, which was always read for him.  I miss him.  I miss Christina’s hugs and smiles.  And I miss always, and I mean always, preparing to go beg for my Jaiden. I miss her and I miss them.

I miss my grand-kids, my sons, and all of my other family members, aunt, uncles, and all of my other kids who are now adults and part of my family.  I miss physically being a part of their every day lives.

Most of all, I miss my on, Aaron.  How does a mother put her absence of 22-28 months in perspective or into words to a 14 year old?  All I know is that I miss doing his stinky laundry and fussing about it.  I miss hearing him sing in the shower in the morning.  I miss he jokes and seeing him make others laugh.  I miss him.  I miss throwing a mama tantrum when he has not taken the time to do his homework correctly or when he forgot his sports hear for practice.  I miss giving him advice about sports and school or his social interaction with kids at school.  I miss him!!  I miss the physical and emotional gratification I get from being his mom.  I love him and I miss it! I miss listening to him talk smack to his cousins and grown siblings.  I miss watching him grow up, emotionally and physically.  I miss brushing his hair in the morning before school and I deeply, deeply miss tucking him in and rubbing his head at night.  I miss him.

I have no more physical tears to give to this process, but I will continue to cry through my words and the blog.  No matter how strong my mind is, and how intact my spirit and soul are, I will forever be scarred by this experience.  keeping in mind that like my physical scars, they heal and have a story of their own.  I am not ashamed of this scar.  it is as a part of me as the physical ones are on my body.  My hope is that those I love will also move past this period and use it to find their own way.

For my son, I just hope that for the next 19-26 months, he knows in his heart that i, his mom, loves him and that will never change.  He also needs to know that if he messes up in school, he will have me to deal with!!!

So, I have no more tears, but I do have a lot of hope and love to share tomorrow and days after that.

I am thankful for my family.  I love you all!

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Being Mindful of All

The main theme that permeates through this camp about me is, “Is she crazy?”  This constant conversation has really given me a new perspective on mental health, mental stability, coping, and self-preservation.  I have always felt like I had an innate ability to “read” people.  By utilizing my childhood instincts, my young-adult life experiences, and my grown woman awareness I can sum up a person in one conversation.  Then, add my professional training and clinical background, and I can complete a mental health status exam and psych-social summary all in one sitting.  But being here at the camp, I find that almost every individual that I come into contact with has an Axis 1 or 2 diagnosis with PTSD features.  I am constantly laughing with my few crew members here that people probably feel the same about us.  “Am I crazy?”  Haha!

As we discussed the behaviors and conversations of others, I began to realize the similar themes between the women and their experiences.  The common topics are loss, despair, pain, shame, loneliness.  These are topics that resonate when they discuss their indictments, pre-trial experiences, and investigations.  Then I become mindful of how all of that felt to me.  The emotions that surface surrounding the whispers that one hears, the loneliness of being ostracized from the community,and  the fear of prosecution and the future persecution are very familiar.  I have endured and embraced those feelings and, with help, have overcome that part of my journey.

I am mindful now of how I interact with the women here because I too was crazy at some point in this process.  The judicial system and government bullies have caused many women in here severe trauma and they are suffering from PTSD.  This system is so ill-prepared for the intellectual, hardworking, law-abiding women whom they have labelled “Felon.”  Once these former CEO’s and accomplished business-women regain their insight and realize their purpose, things will look different for them.  I am “Living Proof” of that.  And when they are ready to file a civil lawsuit against our government for false imprisonment, emotional distress, business losses, etc…..I will definitely be ready to join.  Until then, I will continue to be mindful of all of them and their stories.

Today I am thankful for my strong mind!

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