Displaced Stay At Home Californian in rural N. Carolina

The Many Faces of Joy

The Many Faces of Joy

Saturday, March 24, 2012


Last night I went to dinner in Downtown Sunnyvale to celebrate a friend's birthday. I was running a little late but I quickly became really late because I tried to find parking in this huge lot that you have to drive around and around for 20 minutes and stalk people and hope you beat the next guy to their spot. My doctor's parking lot is like that too but this story is about a different parking lot. Anyway - I found a family loading into their car and turned my blinker on and waited for them to buckle up and back out.

I looked to my left and a white car slowly inched toward the spot in question and he turned his blinker on too. I rolled my window down and pointed at the spot and and then pointed at me to let this person know that I was gonna take the spot and he pointed his finger at me too turned so that he was blocked and so having the advantage, I started to pull into the spot. I was stunned as he gunned it nearly hitting the car that had just backed out and then almost ran into me as he slammed his car into the open spot.

I have to say that my gut reaction was to jump out of my car and punch him but I realized I had my sexy boots on and they aren't good for fighting middle aged men in parking lots. I'm also 43. So I pulled up next to him and rolled my window down as he got out of his car. In an instant my mind screamed "dumbass, cocksucker, asshole, fucker" but I hesitated because I've got Mommy instincts now and the last time I yelled "Bye Bitches" as I pulled around a couple of stupid drivers an 18 month old in the back seat repeated "Bye Fishes".

But he took my spot! And I had waited patiently for it. And he had just pulled up and taken it like those birds that wait for the eggs to be hatched and then swoop in and steal them without any remorse. So I waited until he was standing by his door and ignoring me and I screamed as loud as I could "You are going to die of colon cancer!" And then I drove around the corner and found an open spot without even waiting.

That is what I call good "Car-ma".


I have begun a big project of cataloging my sister's letters. I have received hundreds of letters from my sister in the last 6 years and I want to put them in binders and put them in chronological order. I also have a box of letters that she had released to me at a visit once that I am doing the same thing to in a different folder. I lost count of how many letters there were total but it was between 800 and 1000 letters and cards, not to mention the pictures, drawings, cut outs from magazines and more. Needless to say I am not done with my project I have only just begun.

This project has allowed me to go back over the last 6 years and relive parts of what has passed between us since her incarceration. I got pregnant in these letters, I had a second child in these letters, Gabe finished Vet School in these letters, she moved from County Jail to a Correctional Facility in these letters. So many changes.

Shortly after entering jail, my sister became a born again Christian. I'm not sure how to explain it - she had been a Christian before, but her husband treated religion and Christianity like the plague. As a result, she never brought it up much and stopped going to church or talking about God. When she was arrested one of the first things she did was start attending prison church services and tell all of her friends and family that she had re-discovered God. I stumbled on some letters from a family member congratulating her on her life-changing decision followed by page after page of religious information and advice. I was a little put off by the amount of time and energy put into writing 4 and 5 page letters outlining doctrine and biblical study guide material, using religious rhetoric that seemed inappropriate to send to someone in prison. I started to get angry. I felt like maybe my sister needed something more practical to help her through her journey in a confusing, terrible, stupid place - like a street guide to women's prison, or maybe cliff notes on how to hang with lifetime criminals. Instead, she received pages and pages of how she should spend the Sabbath now that she was in a cell with the same internal dimensions as my tiny bathroom.

I will admit that because of how I was raised, once someone starts to speak in "church" lingo I go deaf. I immediately tune that person out and I start pretending I'm talking to a crazy person. I cringe when people use words like "salvation" and "eternal" and I can't wait to change the subject or slam the front door. It isn't that I don't have my own belief system on God and Jesus but I don't feel comfortable laying them on the table or bringing them out in the open. To me, that kind of stuff is private and personal and for those of you that know me well, there is not a lot of stuff that I consider private and personal.

I can say that we have become much better friends and have gotten much closer these last 6 years. I can say that I know my sister very well and she knows me very well too. I can say that I support anything she chooses to do with her life right now because she is in a place where all I can do is support her. And while she rebuilds her and prepares for her life on the outside, if her peace of mind and comfort comes from God then good for her and good for God! Who knows? If I were in the same place I might make the same choices as her.

But it is easy for me to guess because I'm not in prison.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Here is how I know that hell freezes over now and then. Something so extraordinary happens that it freezes over and then I suppose it thaws, thereby giving the residents a necessary reprieve from the otherwise fiery hot conditions.

Almost 8 years ago I gave birth to a beautiful little baby girl. She was perfect. She had 10 fingers and 10 toes. She had a full head of black hair that stuck straight up. She screamed mightily until she was bathed and swaddled and had that gooey stuff rubbed in her eyes. She came back to us in a bassinet and mewled now and then but spent the last 3 days at the hospital the nicest ones of her infant-hood. It was a beautiful experience if you block out the horrible experience of being told at 8 centimeters that the anesthesiologist is responding to another trauma and can't help you out with an epidural, and then shows up when you are 10 centimeters and tells you there is no time left. Like I said, it was beautiful.

Then we took her home. It took us until about 5:30pm to get out of the hospital, even though she came out of my body we had to have all these signatures and stamps to get her out of the hospital and so we were exhausted but happy to get home, see our dogs and have her all to ourselves. That is until she started screaming. She screamed from the time we got home until about 11:30pm at which point my sister miraculously appeared on our front porch and said she had a "feeling" that we would need help and had just taken it upon herself to drive over and see how we were doing. She couldn't have shown up at a better time, I was sweating, Gabe was sweating, we were screaming at each other, ok, not screaming but very close, the baby was screaming and nearly hoarse and turns out extremely hungry. My sister at this point should have been canonized or at least on a short list of people who are already living saints.

This beautiful baby then turned into the worlds pickiest eater. She was a picky nurser. And finding food to sustain her once she was able to eat food was a major chore. Baby food from the can would make her gag. Baby food made at home would make her retch. Rice, (the food her sister was raised on) made her gag. From the time she was 18 months old until she was 4-ish, she had 10 items she would eat, which were all white or off white in color. It has only been lately that she has added so many things to her diet that I sometimes wonder where my child has gone off to and who is this other one that has replaced her?

This was what was running through my mind tonight as she negotiated with my husband on how much wet dog food he would actually let her try because in her words, "Sally likes the food, so I know it must taste great. Please Daddy, can I try that much?" I didn't think she was serious until she came around the corner with a daub of it on her finger which she popped into her mouth and then smiled and said, "yummy yum".

Hell has frozen over.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Make up

I rarely leave the house during the week without a little make up on. I don't wear much but I do like to wear the following:

Press Powder
Brow Shaper
Eye shadow
Eye liner
Lip Liner
Lip Gloss

Sometimes I change it up and I use this eyebrow shaping pencil before I use the brow shaping brush. Sometimes I like to just use gloss and skip the lip liner. Sometimes if I'm going out and am dressed up, I will go all out and put on a little concealer to start out with before I apply the press powder. I feel like it helps me look less sloppy and more put together. I also feel like it makes me look younger.

I don't usually wear make up on the weekend. I am usually just doing stuff around the house or yard work or going to zumba class. It is too much work and after all I am just hanging out with my husband and the kids. Plus, I just have to wash it off at the end of the day so why bother?

Today I was headed over to the neighbors for a little party and their 10 year old daughter was outside and saw me going over there. She stopped me and asked, "Why did you put make up on?" I replied, "just because, why?" To which she responded, "Ohhhh, that's too bad, you look so pretty without it."

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Spring Fever

I am Spring Cleaning right now like crazy. Here is a comprehensive list of the things I have accomplished in the last 2 weeks:

Cleaned out the deep freeze, unplugged it and defrosted it and am trying to get rid of it.
Taken all my sister's letters and punched holes in them and put them in binders.
Taken all my knitting patterns and punched holes in them and put them in binders.
Taken all the Kindergarten and First Grade art work that has been forgotten and recycled it.
Gone through each child's closets as well as my own and weeded out clothes that have not been worn or used in 6 months and donated them to either local charities or to my Moms club clothing swap.
Cleaned out the refrigerator and the cupboards and disposed of food items that have been in my pantry too long and tossed out condiments that will never be eaten.
Completely gone through drawers and cupboards and not only reorganized and refolded linens and towels but also cleaned the drawers and cupboards as I went.
Washed down most walls and sucked spiders out of every corner with the vacuum.
Bought plastic bins to separate art supplies from hardware items, play-dough from craft beads.
Donated all the junk yarn I never will use or that I have not used in 2 years.

I still have to dust all the window shutters and take down and wash all the curtains but I will get to them eventually. And finally I will shampoo the carpets and being allergy season as clean as I possibly can. And then I will head out to the garden and start making sense of that.

I have Spring Fever bad, really bad. I can't wait for summer . . . how about you?

Thursday, March 1, 2012


March 11 is the date that commemorates my sister's 6th year of incarceration.I had a chance to see her briefly last week and it was wonderful. I have only been able to get to see her every 2 years so when I do see her it is a great thing. First of all we hug for a very long time, and we usually start to cry. I have a hard time letting her go because we can't touch after she sits down so that hug has to last us for the entire visit.

Every year around her anniversary date I try to write something for her to commemorate her incarceration and to bring to my readers a little slice of something new and interesting. This year I want to write about abuse. I firmly believe that if my sister had not been in a debilitating and demoralizingly abusive relationship she would not be where she.

My sister and I were abused as children. I care to not go into every detail but I can tell you that as a survivor of abuse it has a firm foundation in my psyche and makes up who I am no matter how much I do to box it up and bury it under everything else. My sister was not as lucky as I was and married a man who reinforced to her in every way that she was exactly what she thought of herself, which was nothing. She left that man and married another man who made the first man look like a walk in the park.

For those of you who know something about abuse, it is something handed down from generation to generation. It is not something people share with outsiders. Many times it is subtle and begins gently ramping up until the person being abused wonders if they are losing their mind. It comes in many forms, from body language to verbal abuse, emotional abuse and mental abuses. In many ways it can be as devastating as physical abuse and the scars never heal. There are two children in our neighborhood who were being abused and when it was brought to the authorities attention they removed the parent that was abusing, temporarily. It is overwhelmingly obvious when these children play with others that there is something that sets them apart and makes them different. It is heartbreaking to watch them at play and to listen to the way they talk to each other and other children.

It is silence that hurts the most in all of these situations. The silence of parents. The silence of teachers. The silence of the church. The silence of society. The silence of shame. When I visit my sister she will spend a portion of each visit pointing out different women in the room who also have visitors they are meeting with. Each woman's story is one of abuse and the crime associated with the abuse. It is terrible to think that many of these crimes could have been avoided if the issue of abuse was addressed and handled instead of hiding it and being silent. One thing that really sticks with me when my sister and I talk about her abuse and why she is where she is, she reminds me that the good thing about her situation is that her ex-husband is also put away and won't abuse again. She reminds me that he can not get to her where she is. And I have to agree with her on that.