Everyday Experiences

Scared Straight by grief

The Belle works in a prison. Yes, this gentle southern belle of yours works with some of my state’s worst criminals (insert sarcasm on the gentle southern belle part). But, it’s true, I walk into one of the oldest, and the original death row for this state, prisons every morning and stay behind its locked gates and within the cinder block walls for 10 1/2 hours. I work in the dental clinic on a medical floor that is open 24/7. I’ve done this now for over 8 years and I’ve seen many things. There are many things I have not seen. 

Fortunately or unfortunately , depending on how you view it, I’ve become desensitized to a lot of things. After the bureaucracy of the department of corrections reared its ugly head and the dog took a bite causing my husband to loose his job after 10 years of service, that desensitization became even worse. Most days I am quite capable of ignoring everything and anything that an inmate may say or do. I often drift to the ER when there is an emergency to see if any of my Grey’s Anatomy skills can be of use, and because I’m curious to see what’s going on. Don’t judge! It’s prison.

Yesterday’s trip over to the ER started off as any other. I could see the “big time” security officers standing around, the ones called in to contain a situation. This usually means something good. So like normal I casually made my way over. But, this wasn’t a normal “cutter”, room mate fight, or just an inmate faking a seizure. It was something that I have not encountered in my 8 years. Then Penelope started to think. What I witnessed would be better than any scared straight program.

You know, the Scared Straight and Beyond Scared Straight that are on AE and similiar shows on other networks.  According to CrimeSolutions.gov here are the practice goals to the Juvenille Awareness Programs (Scared Straight)  

juvenile awareness programs (also referred to as “prison tour” programs or “prison awareness” programs) are deterrence-oriented programs that involve organized visits to adult prison facilities for juvenile delinquents and youth at-risk of becoming delinquent. The most well-known of these programs is Scared Straight. The overall goal of juvenile awareness programs is to deter youth from future criminal behavior

These programs use different methods to obtain these goals such as tours of prison facilities and presentations by current inmates. The inmates often rely on intimidation, fear, and hostility to attempt to scare the youth into living a life free of crime that would land them in prison. Sometimes they are shown pictures of inmates that have been involved in violence. 

I’ve seen that. The result of inmate violence. I’ve seen inmates die from it. I’ve performed CPR on inmates who have overdosed or hung themselves. Should we show the juveniles that? I’ve seen blood smeared down the halls. I’ve seen enough to scare me straight. But what I saw in the ER this time maybe what the scared straight programs need to focus on.

Grief. I heard the sounds as I walked towards the ER. I thought it was the typical sounds of an inmate moaning as he resists whatever it is they are asking him to do. But when I entered the room the moaning clearly turned into wails. The purest of human emotion. Grief. There he was, a 25 year old boy crying from the bottom of his soul “why are you telling me my mama is dead? I want my mama, I want my mama”.

I’m sure some of you are asking/thinking “what about his victim(s)”? True. Very true. First off, I didn’t even ask his name so I didn’t even look up what he was sentenced for.  If he has victim(s) of a violent crime I am in no way diminishing their grief or their right for justice. I’m trying to show another side to prison life that often gets overlooked when these programs are trying to deter youth from a life behind bars.

Heart wrenching , guttural grief, and the words “my mama was the only one there for me and now you say I’ll never see her again? I want my mama, I want my mama” coming from a hardened inmate. May do more than just someone yelling in their faces. 

Why I go to a public place for silence

 It’s my day off. I really have A LOT to do. Tons of housework. Dogs to clean up after. Naps to take. Grey’s Anatomy to watch. I have a bank account that needs to be straightened out after a mishap with an overdraft (oops?), and April’s monthly budget has to be completed today. 

Why am I in a coffee shop? Well, the first answer is obvious. I am addicted to caffeine after all (hint, hint Southern Belle on Caffeine). Secondly, S’Moores Coffee, has THE best coffee around. And the real reason is because it’s quite. A public coffee shop quite? Yes, even with the sound of the espresso machine and the occasional blender plus the hum of constant chatter in the background, it is still quiter than my empty house.

My empty house is very noisy. The pile of laundry continues to make a high pitch sound as I try to calculate the budget. The overall neediness of the small army of #meredithgreythepug, #gizmothelucydog, and their guest Tinker Bell makes so much noise and can also take over your olfactory senses as well (phew). I’ve got a brand new vinyl machine still in the box that I can hear clawing to get out (I send the lotion down) and a wardrobe of penguin clothes to sort through for the fall that have no home and I can hear sobbing. 

So yes, the public place is quiter. It’s easy for me to zone out and focus on this budget in front of me. All the sounds of my empty house will still be there when I get back home. For now I have coffee, a calculator, my budget book, and the silence of this place.

Photo credit: http://www.liveluvcreate.com/image/ive_never_heard_silence_quite_this_loud-440420.htm



Some days the numbness just takes over. It’s usually when I think things are going better. When I’ve had those “lightbulb” moments in a bathroom and I thought I could see the light. That’s when the light just either just stays in place or fades away again. I continue to function. I continue to love my penguin. But the rest? The rest just doesn’t phase me.

The questions I ask at the end of these days are simple. Does the penguin feel loved? Does the penguin feel secure? Has she been fed, clothed, cared for, and is in bed next to me? If I can answer yes to those questions then when I look around at the other stuff I feel nothing. I am completely numb about my situation. 

I am numb that my husband was used as a scapegoat in a larger corruption case and now he is away from me most of the time. I have no desire to wash clothes. It’s not laziness, it’s really not. I’m not lazy. I go to work at 4:00 am. I just feel nothing else besides taking care of her. My feelings, my needs have all gone away.

Maybe it’s just the mother instinct. Maybe it truly is a problem. I know it is resentment. Resentment that has turned me into a smiling “yes, dear” robot. What else is there? Nothing will change. I’ve talked, cried, screamed, all until I’m blue and his stupid pride wins every time. 

And my numbness just sinks back in…..

The SB guide to those 5 things…


A friend shared a blog post from Money Saving Mom titled 5Things You should Do Every Single Day-Even when life is Stressful. I read with an open mind, but I still ended up on the floor laughing. Please understand, I AM NOT MAKING FUN OF THE WRITER or her ideas!!! I simply find them hilariously funny when trying to apply them to my real, every day life. 

I also understand that there are some people who live real lives that follow these, my mother is one. I just can’t seem to find the sanity to fit these 5 mundane things into my already over stretched day. I have enough trouble making sure everyone is fed to worry about some of this other stuff. 

So here it goes. My take on the  5 Things You should do every single day…. 

1. Write a Short to do list

I suggest no more than 5-7 items on your to-do list each day, otherwise, you’re probably setting yourself up for defeat and frustration.

Yeah, um, so the small OCD tendencies that I have left screaming to be let out really do like this one. But, the borderline crazy, hanging on by a thread person that’s taken over is laughing. My to do list consist of work, pick up penguin, sleep, work. If I’m lucky a load of laundry may get done but that isn’t because I don’t right it down. 

2. Make your bed 

Truth be told, this is something I’m still working on myself. However, I’ve been much more committed to making this a priority after watching this video. (Yes, go watch it. I’ll wait for you!)

Honestly, I didn’t watch the video, so I may be missing out on an earth shattering reason as to why I should. Truth be told I like a good ole made up bed. However, it’s not practical. The penguin sleeps in the bed until I pick her up asleep at 5:00 am to take her to the car. So, waking my 5 year old to make a bed is not an option.

3. Get Dressed in Something That Makes You Feel Great

Working at a prison on a medical floor makes this difficult too. Scrubs, scrubs, and more scrubs. But, on a positive note I have started to assecorize my eyeglasses. The weekends I make an effort but I can’t think straight and I just want to get out of the house. Plus I am making sure the penguin isn’t dressing in 5 layers. This one I am working on.

4. Do one Load of Laundry From Start to Finish

This one I actually do. When it’s just me and the penguin. Then my husband comes home with his eleven days worth and it creates a huge problem. Then the problem becomes one that I don’t want to deal with. So this one is more stubbornness then anything. 

5. Keep your kitchen clean

I can do this by not cooking! And we eat oatmeal, cereal, yogurt. We rinse out our cups or use disposable. But then of course the husband comes homes and starts competing for the Next Top Chef and all hell breaks loose. 

So, it’s mostly true. Even for someone as crazy as me that that’s 5 things can be done. Maybe not to the perfection the author suggest, but to the level your comfortable with.

Where are my underoohs? I just crapped my big girl panties!


I have come to despise the ever popular “put your big girl panties on and deal with it ” saying. I can attribute my dislike for this mantra  probably because of its overuse in pop culture and its overuse in my immediate family’s vocabulary. You may be thinking, “well, maybe you need to quit whining AND put your big girl panties on!”. Blah, blah, blah is what I say to that in my most mature voice. First off, this is my blog and I will wine if I want to, secondly I will wear whatever panties I want while I do it.

I am just tired of this grown up stuff and these big girl panties. It just keeps coming, even when I think I am getting a break. I am not talking about the normal every day adult stuff like jobs, bills, children, etc…. Those things I can handle. I knew they were coming with the adult world. I embraced them. It is all of the damn curve balls that keep coming at me that I am exhausted from dodging. Just when I think I can put on my footed, fleece pajamas and curl up and relax just a moment it is time for those stupid big girl panties again.

Are their big boy panties? Or big boy underwear? I have never once heard someone say to a man for him to put on a pair. Why is this? I think my husband needs a pair. Christmas list. Check. If I have to wear these things then by golly someone else is gonna wear them with me. I did not sign on for this alone. Can anyone argue that I have not worn these damn panties with the best of them? I am just weary from it. And they are chafing me. I think it is time to share some of the load.

So this is me. This is my blog. This is me taking the big girl panties off, stepping into my underoohs with Wonder Woman on them (because I am still Wonder Woman) and with my hand on my hips I am stomping my feet and I am screaming at the top of my lungs……………………….

Boy, do I feel better.

Another birthday down the tubes….

I wrote my first post of the month, That Bull was much more fun than the one I’ve been riding, with much reflection on the month of November. If you’ve read that post you would know despite the month being a great month because I came into this world, it also has held some pretty dark memories too. 

It’s ironic? Maybe that’s the right word. There are birthdays I’ll never forget. And now there are birthdays that I’ve blocked out. 

My sweet Sixteen was a quaint celebration with my closest friends over chili and checkered table cloths. My 18th was a complete surprise at the catering company/restaurant I worked at. My 21st was in Augusta with a group of friends I barely knew but would become family over the next two years. I definitely remember my 32nd. I had recently given birth to the best thing ever. 

My 29th I’ve blocked out. My now ex-husband finally decided he wanted a divorce around that time and it’s all been buried somewhere. My 35th isn’t completely forgotten because it was pretty fun, however it is shadowed with my husband’s job loss. We are now at 37. Wow! I’m pretty sure it will get buried.

What started off as a normal day ended in a jaw dropping turn of events. My husband of course is not home. But I’m used to that. A dear family pet as been struggling for awhile with first, the loss of our pug, and then the life change when her master, my husband, left for the road. Tuesday, my birthday, was her most difficult day. In actuality she suffered “minor” physical injuries that were treated with surgery easily. However, it’s the mental anguish that I worry about and what I came home to that will leave this birthday buried. 

She cut herself. My house looked like a murder scene from a horror movie. Something from The Walking Dead. From one end of the house to the other. Blood. Splatter. Walls. Baseboards. Windows. Counters. Tables. Furniture. Doors. The floor was covered all throughout. The computer was knocked over. My daughter’s bathroom looked like the shower scene from Psycho. It took 2 days to clean.

My husband has no idea. He is in complete denial. If not for my parents I honestly don’t know what I would have done. I want to shake him. 

**The dog is fine. She is in the care of a vet. We are working on re homing her. Please no comments or suggestions on what I can do…..I’ve done everything I can!!! The vet says the dog needs more human interaction than what I can give with my work schedule***