My Blog Motto

"Good judgement comes from experience, and often experience comes from bad judgement"

~Rita Mae Brown

Sunday, December 20, 2015

A Minor Inconvenience - reflections on 12/19/2014


It wasn't my first time in jail. After all I am a woman with a past but I wondered if the very different circumstances that landed me there would color the experience in a lighter hue. After all, my previous jail experiences were, shall we say, not unreasonable. I did break the law, I was stupid about it and I was very, very drunk. At that point in my life I was quite often very, very drunk. I can even say that for the most part I was in the wrong, I needed intervention and frankly I'm a better person for the experience. See, like many people who run afoul of the law I was lost in a mix of untreated mental health issues and coexisting alcohol and drug abuse. Unlike many people, I was fortunate enough to be offered an alternative to sentencing at a very effective and holistic treatment program for women. But that was after enough time in jail for me to learn a few things.
Probably the biggest lesson I picked up on is that my jail fears were way off base. For most people the biggest fear of jail is the other inmates. You know all the horror stories and jokes, I don't need to repeat them. In reality most people who are in County jail are not murderers and/or rapists eagerly rubbing their hands together at the prospect of "fresh meat". If anything my grand entrance to the dorm with my arm load of fresh bedding and false bravado, was pretty anti climactic. Most of the women barely looked up from their game of cards or tv show or whatever it was they were using to pass the time. When someone finally did approach me it was an older woman with a gentle and motherly nature who took me under her wing, telling me that since I'd just missed canteen day she would hook me up with coffee for the next few days. Within minutes we were in her cell sipping lukewarm instant coffee mixed with "hot" tap water, looking at photos of her grandchildren. Like any grandmother she was beaming with pride and full of stories. She was clearly an elder, both on the inside and out, and by befriending her I managed to secure a fair amount of space for the remainder of my stay. 
In the 9 weeks I spent there, I came to know all the women in my unit. I heard their stories, stories of children at home, of boyfriends who convinced them to take the rap because they had a clean record and were less likely to do hard time. I heard histories of abuse and dehumanization that often began in infancy within the family and of disenfranchisement by a system that has no compassion for women who don't fit the "norm" (whatever that is) in the community. The vast majority of my cellmates were in for victimless crimes, mostly involving drugs or alcohol, self-medication. Some were in for bad checks or other forms of "fraud" that were the only options available to provide for their children. The vast majority of these women were black, because the vast majority of people who end up in jail for crimes like that are black and usually poor. Women who were casualties of a racist and classist system that is devoid of compassion, devoid of accessible and meaningful services and resources. A system that punishes the mentally ill and re-victimizes the abused.
That experience was nearly 20 years ago and in that time I managed to get clean, return to college to earn a Master's Degree in Community Counseling and find employment in a rewarding career advocating for the kind of women I'd grown to know, and care about, on the "inside"
On December 19, 2014, I was arrested for protesting the very system I'd grown to understand was responsible for robbing these women of their freedoms, their families, their dreams. In my eyes this experience would be different. I was different, I was supporting a "noble" cause, and certainly I'd be out within an hour, no problem, piece of cake. Or so I thought. The minute I walked through that door into the justice facility all my self righteous pride and illusion melted like a January thaw. The sound of those metal doors slamming behind you, the clanging of the CO's keys, the angry voice commanding you by last name only to do as you are told brought me right back to that time two decades ago. If you haven't experienced it it's difficult to describe accurately the immediate effect of depersonalization that occurs the minute that door slams. It was as if all I'd struggled to create and nurture in my life was stripped away in an instant. 
Does this sound melodramatic of someone who ultimately only spent one night in jail on a relatively minor misdemeanor charge? Out of context I'm sure it would, and rightly so when there are so many behind bars serving decades for "crimes" that are often ultimately the result of a broken system that creates broken people. People who were never offered the opportunity for a second chance that I was given simply by being white, educated and somewhat middle class, It was in reality, much like the protest for which I was arrested, a minor inconvenience. But then again, both the protest and the arrest were symptoms of a much larger and insidious system that decides that some people are worth less than others if they are even given any thought to at all. 
I know I'm fortunate to have that advantage even if it often creates an internal discomfort, a conflict that I can only reconcile by creating minor inconveniences in the hope that they will someday bring light to the greater injustices in our society,
© 2010-2015 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Blogging Blah Blah and Being an Oddball

I haven't been a very good blogger lately have I? Well, maybe I've never been a very good blogger, but I haven't been a very productive blogger. It can be fun in a way, writing down your thoughts and having the ability to share and to see what others think, that bit is fun. It seems as though within the last few years everyone has decided to be a blogger. Fair enough, everyone has an opinion, and ideas and we all like to share and communicate. Now that things like facebook and twitter have become more than just a diversion or a bit of a treat they seem to have morphed into our daily process of interacting with others. They feel like a necessity. Up in the morning, have your cup of coffee or however it is you start your day and then right to the device to check up on your facebook. Lunchtime, check your facebook. Home from work..facebook. Ooops my phone dinged, someone replied on facebook, better see what that's about. And all of a sudden the world is awash with our thoughts, ideas and opinions. It's all out there, forever. Every bad mood, every little disagreement, every lunch someone ordered at the deli, every latte at Starbucks, every cute face your dog made (guilty) you get the point, it's almost like why have a blog when our lives are moment by moment recorded, out on display, reviewed and critiqued every day?
Of course there are many brilliant minds and amazing writers who do have blogs worth reading. Why bother trying to get published in an industry that is overwhelmed and frankly probably highly controlled for content? Write a blog.
Then there are people who really, really just like to hear themselves talk, no shortage of those, and they can reach a much larger audience with a blog. Why limit your rants to friends and family who have all heard what you have to say a zillion times?
I am fascinated by how different the world is for young people who have always had the internet. And smartphones. For them instant communication with a relatively unlimited audience is just the way things are. They can't imagine having to wait to use a telephone to confess some deep dark secret or some bit of exciting news to their best friend. Or having to wait for a piece of mail to arrive in response to a letter you sent a week earlier. Or the intimacy of the sweaty piece of paper cautiously being unwrapped while hiding in the bathroom stall at school awaiting the answer to the big question 'do you like me?'
I'm only a bit nostalgic for those times. Really I thrive on the ability to be able to have instant responses. I'm thrilled by the fact that some of the people I have the most stimulating conversations with are people I would never have known before the internet, and who I may never meet in person. I care about these people and I know they care about me. I've always been a bit of an oddball and good friends are hard to come by. I think many of the people I've grown close to online are cut from the same cloth. When I was so sick and miserable on treatment for Hepatitis C I found groups and individuals who offered real support and understanding because they knew exactly what I was experiencing. It was a wider base than I could have had access to by going to the one and only support group that was offered in town and consisted of about 20 people at best. In my experience, being an oddball, in a group that size I'm lucky to find one or two who really clicks with all of the aspects of my life not just the topic of the group.
So ok, I've been an inconsistent blogger. I won't say bad, I won't say great, I just am who I am, quirky, oddball, whatever. I am a voracious communicator, although I'm not even sure 'voracious' fits in that context, but it's my blog so I'm using it that way. And isn't that the beauty of all this. We can do it our way, so long as we're not claiming to be experts or speaking on a topic that requires study and expertise. If I am an expert in anything it's doing things in my own oddball way and encouraging others to embrace their own eccentricities. So this post is dedicated to all my friends, near and far, in person and online, I am so grateful for you all and for your humor, honesty and courage to be yourselves! Thank you for being you.
Peace and Love,
Jenny

© 2010-2014 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Pharmaceutical Sexy

"These are the years of your life when you know who you are...and you should live like it" This line is from an ad for Viagra or some equivalent product.
The reason middle aged and older people are comfortable with who we are and choices we make is, in my opinion, largely due to the lack of hormones that these products attempt to stimulate or simulate. It's quite simple, us older people are more wise and confident because we are not constantly obsessing about how to get laid!!!!
Granted I'm not sure how Viagra works, but it is only one of a few products and schemes designed to enable older adults to 'feel sexy', and perform sexy.. There is HRT (Hormone replacement therapy) for women which is designed to help with the symptoms of menopause and presumably is of some benefit in preventing certain types of cancer. I did not choose to try this option myself, but I don't hold it against anyone who does especially if their menopause symptoms are interfering with daily life. I have heard some women, including a celebrity or two, advocate HRT for the youthful effects. Some are cosmetic, apparently hormones can stave off some of the changes that effect the aging process, but I've also heard women gushing about their increased sex drive. I guess this comes in handy for celebrity women who seem to wear young men on their arm like fashion accessories, but most of us don't need to keep up with a 20 something libido. Speaking for myself when recalling my own libido at ago 20 something, I'm not so sure I'd want to revisit that intensity. Hey it was great at the time and I took ample advantage of the opportunities but 30 years later I am just naturally inclined to save my energies for other things.
I'm not saying that once we hit a certain age we ought to become celibate, close up shop completely, but like so many other interpersonal relationships things do change with age and experience. And to give credit where credit is due this change in my activities is not entirely the result of some inner peace and harmony or great spiritual awakening, it's pretty much quite simply a change in hormonal composition. It's a change I can live with and since I was one of those people who seemed to have an overflow of hormones in my youth, it's actually been a relief. It was hard work keeping up with all those demands my body kept insisting I fulfill.
So you all rock on with your pharmaceutical hornyness if that makes you happy, for me I'll take the peace of mind.



© 2014 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Monday, March 24, 2014

Long ass winter

Yes it has been,  literally and figuratively.  I opened my blogger account for the first time in over a month and there are a half dozen unfinished drafts.
This winter has sapped me of my soul I swear.
It's really rather unpleasant to have the experience of going outdoors become physically and emotionally painful.
I don't know what my issue is but I've been labeled as depressed, chronically fatigued and a few other trendy diagnoses. All I know is that there are periods of time when I have no energy and no motivation.  It's not as though I'm particularly unhappy at these times,  I'm just not that into doing much. And that's the average day. On the bad days my body resists any plans my brain might consider. It doesn't just resist, it aches, it refuses, it calls a general strike.
It is in winter that I feel like a bear, I just want to eat a lot of fat and sleep.
I'm waking up and emerging from hibernation now and feeling my creativity re emerging as well,  and not a moment to soon, I was beginning to bore myself.
Happy Spring and to those of us in the southern hemisphere, Happy Autumn!

Peace

Friday, February 14, 2014

Deep Winter Freezeout

I haven't been much into blogging lately. It was very fun at first. Social Media can be a scrapbook or story journal of one's life, but one you get to share with complete strangers as well as friends and acquaintances. It's a fun way to reality test your perception of yourself, getting feedback from someone who you will probably never meet in real life, someone who has nothing to gain or lose by being completely honest in their reactions to your thoughts and or artwork etc. is simultaneously liberating and risky. In the long run it's probably therapeutic for me to do this from time to time. I do like to have the opportunity to bounce my ideas and feelings off several diverse others and have them share their experiences with me
If your reaction carries no cost as well, you are free to risk being thrown for a loop. We can learn a lot about ourselves by being thrown for a loop, caught off guard, called on our shit. Our friends are less likely to do this for us for various reasons that I'm sure we're all aware of.
That's all cool for a while, then you start to realize that every damn person in the world has an opinion and some are more alluring than others. For me the type of storytelling or editorializing varies with my current state of mind and mood. So I'll read one blog for a bit then switch to something else for a while.
That type of selective yet interactive way of relating to other people can provide us with interesting opportunities to learn from the way we interact with others.
 Especially now when I don't get out and meet new people like I used to when I was young or even when I was in school or working. When I was on Interferon/Ribavirin treatment for Hepatitis C for a whole year I was so sick and weak I hardly ever left my bed. My computer was my door to the outside world and other people, especially since I was able to find other people, from all over the world, of all ages and backgrounds, who were experiencing the same thing I was. It's very difficult to understand how that treatment effects you  unless you have been through it. It's a great comfort to have people who truly understand.
I just wanted to check in with an update and see how everyone is doing. I've been doing a lot of reading and writing, not blog writing, other stuff, and battling with cabin fever or the temptation to retreat into total hibernation. I'm trying to appreciate the beauty of winter as often as possible and I'm fortunate to not have to be out n the wicked cold if I don't want to, at least not very much.
Next month I'm off to California with my daughter to visit my Mother and Brother! Good times ahead!


© 2010-2014 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard