Stress is like Punching Someone through Molasses

Last night, I dreamt that it was the day of my best friend’s wedding and my other best friend, a fellow bridesmaid, reminded me that we’d not yet bought our dresses. For the wedding. That day. She goes, “Let’s just run to Target really quick.”

On our way through the parking garage (wherever we were), I stopped at my car to get something, and these five or six young guys started toward me. I thought about trying to hide behind the car, but figured they’d find me anyway, so I just sort of faced them. Two of them had ballpoint pens aimed at me like weapons and the others were unarmed, but still circling around me and being threatening.

I decided I needed to come out swinging, literally, and brought my arm back to land a punch on one of the punks.

As per usual, as per every single dream where I’ve tried to fight someone, my fist took about thirty seconds to reach the kid’s face. I don’t know what that is in miles-per-hour or force or whatever, but it’s pretty goddamn slow and pretty goddamn weak. Ineffective, to say the least.

It didn’t matter whether I threw a punch with my left or right, neither of them would do any good. Or any harm, I should say.

Kicks were the same way.

I even got the pens away from the losers at one point and were attempting to stab them. Nothing. Probably didn’t even leave an ink mark on their shirts.

Not only is this frightening, but it’s stressful. And it arouses many questions. Why can’t I defend myself? If I don’t defend myself, I’m going to get hurt. I don’t want to get hurt. Why am I so weak?

Every. single. dream. involving a fight.

And usually, I have these dreams when I’m anxious about something. So the fact that I can’t defend myself or I’m too weak to inflict any harm on someone who is trying to harm me doesn’t really help with my anxiety or stress.

I’m sure I could make some claim about how I’m feeling helpless IRL so it’s translating into the dream. It’s just cyclical. Like, it’s bothered me all goddamn day.

I’m feeling anxious and stressed out and helpless and fearful because of the drunk’s upcoming hearing on Thursday. I won’t even be doing anything; I don’t even have to go, technically. I just want to go so that I can hear him plead and hear his fate. I don’t even think he’ll receive sentencing; who knows. I just can’t not go. I can’t sit at home and wait to hear what’s next. That’s all I’ve fucking been able to do since this accident. Sit at home, receive bills, send emails, see doctors, make phone calls to hospitals/insurance/bill collectors. It’s been truly maddening.

I just want it all to be over. I want my medical bills paid, I want to be healed and healthy again, I want to wake up and not wonder who or what related to the case I’ll have to deal with that day.

I know complaining makes little-to-no sense. If I had chosen this, I wouldn’t be able to complain; this is just something that happened, so I shouldn’t complain. The thing is, though, that it’s something that shouldn’t have happened. Something that didn’t need to happen.

This has been the longest slow-motion punch and I desperately need it to make contact and inflict damage. For once.

How Many Cops Does It Take to Arrest a 68-year-old Man in His Pajamas, by Clay Friis

As aforementioned, my dad decided to write up a ‘blog’ while he was on the inside. Without further ado, I present said blog:

 

March 4th, 2014. 6:00 am… zero:dark:thirty!  Loud knock on my front door. Still thirty minutes before my alarm! WTF? Five times: Bam, bam, bam. Bam, bam! I stumbled sleepily to the front door and turned on the outside light. Hmm, police in swat gear. I opened the door and said in my most hospitable voice, “come in, officer!”

In the door came six deputies dressed in full swat gear. The first one asked me my name. He then pulled out a folded piece of paper and waved it in front of me. “We have a warrant for your arrest! Please step back, turn around, and put your hands behind your back! Is there anyone else here?” He slapped the cuffs on me; I asked him, “do they have to be that tight?” It felt like the metal was slicing through my skin. He told me he could get a finger between my wrist and the cuff, “so it is okay.” He told me that I wasn’t acting very surprised to see them. 

The other cops walked through the house to see if someone was hiding anywhere. They came back after a while and gave the all-clear. Another cop asked me if I did the woodwork in the kitchen. “It is beautiful!”  Good cop-bad cop, or something to take my mind off the arrest, I imagined. The butch cop asked me where my shoes were. I told him he was standing on them. I also told him I needed to pee. He said, “wait until we get downtown!”  Then he asked where the house keys were. I told him they’re behind him on the key rack… the one with about one hundred keys on it.

I was standing in my pajama pants and a thin, long-sleeved shirt. Once outside, I remembered my glasses. I needed my glasses. The cop went back to the house to get them and set the house alarm off. He had to ask me my code – now I really feel safe. Once he’d retrieved the glasses, he went to put them on my face. He said he would try to be gentle and not poke me in the eye. Finally, some compassion.

The cop led me through the frigid cold and down the street to the plain car. He opened up the front passenger door and helped me in. The handcuffs really hurt now, as there wasn’t room for my arms behind me. He tried to adjust the seat to help, but just made it worse. He fumbled with the seat belt and then we were on the road.

While we were driving, I had to push my elbows against the seatback to take the pressure off of my wrists. The cuffs were certainly digging into my flesh then. To make some conversation, I brought up his statement about me not being surprised to see them. I told him that it was six in the morning and they woke me from a deep sleep – it’s difficult to be anything but tired; plus, I’d been a convicted felon for the past ten years, a random visit from the police is to be expected.

When we got downtown, we drove into a garage where he fiddled with the seatbelt again. Inside, he removed the cuffs and pointed me in the direction of a restroom. Relief at last! When I came back out, I was asked a ton of medical questions for a form he was filling out. After that, I had to talk to someone behind a window who asked the same questions.

Questions finished, I was seated on the male side of the room. A lady called me up for fingerprinting: finger tips, all fingers at once, fingers separately, thumb prints, palm prints, roll each finger separately, whole hand. I was then led to the nurse who checked my weight, pulse, and blood pressure. Medical questions were asked for the third time.

Then it was out to the waiting cell: a long, narrow room with a bench on one wall and toilet at one end. The door was half-glass. While I sat there, I wondered about laying down on the bench, but then they opened the door and gave me a tray with “breakfast” on it: oatmeal, dry whole grain bread, thin slice of fake ham, apple sauce, and a carton of milk. I ate half a piece of bread with the “ham.”

I felt like I had to go to the bathroom again. I thought, ‘I will be sitting there and someone will walk by and look in or open the door – the toilet is totally exposed.’ Then I thought, ‘who cares? There is no modesty in jail!’ I walked over to the stool and dropped a load! Of course I only realized afterward that there was no toilet paper. I looked around the room before deciding on using the rest of the dry bread. Needless to say, that was a first!

Soon, I was taken to another room where a plain-clothes officer told me that he had notified the highway patrol that I now had a temporary change of address! He asked me if I was worried about abusing someone or being abused in jail. I said, no. That prompted me to ask him if there was a threat of that happening. He told me he had been there seventeen years and never had it happen yet! I talked to him a while about church and his family.

Then I had to give up my pajamas for my prison-issues: orange pants, orange shirt, brown boxers, brown t-shirt., and orange flip flops. I also got a bag of toiletries, a change of fresh oranges, a drinking cup, a roll of blankets, and some sheets. I found some paper and something to write with when I got to my room.

I wrote: “I am in my room. Cell number 5. My cell room: 9X13. Two bunk beds attached to the wall. One bed about 12 inches off the floor. The other tall enough to sit on the lower bunk and not hit your head. They are steel plates welded to a plate in the block wall for support. There is a step in the wall about 3 blocks up to step on and climb into the top bunk. There is a cement sink vanity. Stool, no lids or seat flap. Light on far wall above the sink. Everything covered by steel plates and screen. Short steel shelf on wall opposite the beds with two hooks on swivels on which you can hang a towel. If you put pressure on them with your hand, they give away and keep you from hanging yourself on them! There is a 12×15 inch mirror encased in steel.

The door has no handle on the inside. If it is closed, you need to press a button and the guard will remotely unlock the door! There is no handle on the outside, just a pull slot. You are not allowed to enter another inmate’s cell, only stand in the doorway. The wall next to the door is floor-to-ceiling glass. There is also a narrow window in the door.”

I was on the bottom bunk. The guard brought an older black guy to my room. He was pleasant and I liked him at once. He had a great laugh.  He was 53 years old. I told him I hoped I wouldn’t keep him awake with my snoring! He said the same about himself.

During lockdown, we all went to our cells and closed the doors. We stayed there until the guard unlocked them. This happened when there was a shift change, and also when they brought meals. There was a bank of five phones in a circle around a pole. To use the phones, you entered a code on your wristband and a four digit security pin. When we checked in, we repeated a phrase three times and this was our voice-activated password. The phrase was: “With Global Tel-Link, my voice is my password.” My wristband had my name, photo, inmate ID number, and my date of birth.

My roommate snored while I wrote. He was stopped for speeding, at which time, the officer discovered that he’d been driving on a suspended license for ten years. He was given the option to plead not guilty and have a fine of $500/six months in jail, OR plead guilty and have a fine of $50/ten days in jail. What a hard choice!

Supper, day one: Diced carrots, unknown meat and noodles, bread and butter, cookie; cabbage slaw, sweet tea.

“I like my cellmate. I got the right one! I might take him to lunch when he gets out! The pen I use to write this is the insert of an ink pen. Flops all over the place.

The guy next to us is in 24-hour lockdown. He was freaking out last night. Started yelling under the door and stomping around his room. Most of the guys ignored him. He was screaming, ‘fuck the cops; fuck the police; fuck this place; fuck four; fuck fuck fuck.’ On and on for hours… The guard finally came over to his door and tried to calm him down. I heard him say, ‘listen to me. I am not a cop. I am a family man and I am just working to support my family! Look in my eyes!’”

I remember praying as I was being handcuffed. I prayed all the way downtown. The cop who cuffed me did his job with great zeal. I told a sheriff that he treated me like I had just shot his fellow cop! What did he have to fear from a 68-year-old man in pajamas without his glasses?

Breakfast, day two: apple sauce, malt-o-meal, butter and very dry biscuit, strange cold sausage patty, and milk. 

I got my cellmate’s phone number and told him I would call him when he was out of jail. Lunch together!

“I go to the court room for my bond hearing in one hour. My former wife and my daughter will be there. My former wife has been very helpful throughout this process. I will pay her for the collect phone calls I made to her. I will also pay her a bonus for all her time. My wife is still in China and waiting for her visa.”

I had almost no sleep my first night. I slept during the day of the arrest and at night, my back hurt. There was no way to lie where the pain went away. Most of the inmates are Hispanic, then black, then white. I sat with a Hispanic guy who had words tattooed over his eyes where his eyebrows should be!

The last day, I also met a guy who wrote a story for World of Warcraft. He is an artist and author. I saw him drawing Powerball Z drawings. Then he told me all about his WOW story. Said he is working on another story, but needs a map for reference. I told him I could try to print off a map and send it to him. I did this yesterday and put it in the mail today. There are a lot of great people in jail if you take the time to know them!

 

So. That’s how I spent my Tuesday and half of Wednesday. How were your two days?

When Shit Goes to Hell In a Handbasket But Just Fucking Survives Anyhow

Image

That is absolutely accurate.

I think I left off last time with Jo’s flight being delayed until who knows when. Or 620pm. I then proceeded to have too much Moscato on an empty stomach and just stay up late. I figured I’d wake up at 2pm, I’d have an hour to get ready and get a Starbucks and hit the road. Awesome.

Then I woke up. I grabbed my phone and the first thing I did was pull up the United Airlines app to check Jo’s flight. Before I could do anything, mom was calling. I answered and in a very strange voice, she told me that something happened and it was going to upset me. Or could. I can’t remember. It did. But whatever.

Dad had been arrested at 630am. So, probably, shortly after I actually went to sleep. All I really said was, ‘WHAT?’ and then listened to how my mom’s day had gone from about 830am until then. Apparently, there was a warrant out for his arrest because he left the country a year ago and wasn’t supposed to. Awesome. What, did the warrant fall behind the new guy’s desk or something? A year ago? Jesus.

She said that we would be doing court at 9am the next morning and Conor was going to get money for bail today while I drive to Kansas City to pick up Jo. I honestly don’t remember the rest of the conversation, but I do remember mom telling me that she needed a hug before I went. I got up, got ready, went to Starbucks for both of us, and also brought her some Advil before I took off.

Once in the car, and once before I’d left, actually, I had a mini-breakdown. Or in any case, a what-the-actual-fuck-is-going-on-and-I’m-really-goddamn-sick-of-2014-already-if-I’m-entirely-honest moment. Well, two moments.

I turned my music up and did as Paul McCartney told me to do: ‘step on the gas and wipe that tear away.’

The drive was uneventful. Got to KC unscathed and I will say that MCI is a super easy airport to get to, as well as maneuver parking-wise. I parked right across from the door and as I walked in, I saw a Canadian-English-looking gal with a pink bag and called out to the Canuck. Of course, it was like no time had passed since London/Bristol.

She had had a hell of a day already, too – been up since midnight CST and at the airport sitting around for hours and hours while her canceled/cancelled (ahem) flight turned into one now flying into Cleveland and then finally into KC. Thank God for beer and Starbucks and all that good stuff.

I lightheartedly told Jo that we’d have to spend a bit of her first night running to Conor’s to get the bail money (and dad’s clothes, since they didn’t let him change out of his pajamas or grab a coat.. um, it’s fucking winter) and then to mom’s to introduce Jo and work out a plan for morning. Oh yeah, then we’d have to spend her first morning here with her sleeping in and putzing around my apartment while mom and I went to court, posted bail, and waited for dad to be released.

I was pissed. I mean, the timing seemed obnoxious and totally against me/us. It would have been very easy to say that this trip never should have happened due to all the hangups, but very quickly, we realized that Jo was totally meant to be here through all of this because, well, A: I would need a Brit around to make sure my upper lip remained stiff and B: I’d just need a distraction.

Luckily, Jo was totally knackered, so she passed out and I got into bed with my laptop. I really couldn’t sleep. I really didn’t want to sleep. I just couldn’t believe this shit was sort of happening… again. I mean, sure, it’s been over ten years. It was literally laughable that we could say, ‘well, at least we know what we’re doing this time.’

You know, I’ve always been a bit afraid of it. Talking about it. Being asked about it (which never happens, but I’m para). So what? I have a convicted felon in the family. Yep. And he’s my dad and I love him. End of.

Well, not really; I’m nowhere near done with this bitch.

Anyway. Thankfully, my buddy Nicole was online and has similar sleeping habits. Since I didn’t want to go to sleep (I had to be up early and I’m always nervous I’ll sleep through my alarm when there’s important shit to do), we watched the last couple Sherlock episodes that we’d left off a while back. But mainly, and most helpfully, I was offered another distraction. (Thank you, Nicole).

After some Sherlock, a tub of hummus, and some baby carrots, I figured I should try to get at least a couple hours of sleep. It was past 5am at this point and I had to be up at 7am so that we could get to the correctional facility downtown which I had no idea even existed by 830am. I think I fell asleep singing the guitar solo from ‘Let It Be’ in my head because nothing says ‘it’ll be alright’ like George Harrison’s masterful licks in ‘Let It Be.’

I wish I could say I woke up to the sound of music, but actually, I woke up hot and sweaty, what seemed like, every twenty minutes. And then to my three or four alarms that I’d set. (Told you, para).

I took a bit longer than planned trying to get ready. What does one wear to her dad’s bond announcement, amIrite?

Was supposed to meet mom at her apartment so we could follow each other downtown. Of course, there was a disabled vehicle in the middle goddamn lane of Dodge Street about right where I needed to make a move to get Starbucks. I texted mom and asked if she could just put some coffee in a thermos for me before I FTFO. She said, yes.

Of course, due to the car in the middle of the road, traffic had slowed to about 10mph. Finally, after everyone behind me got to move into another lane (what the hell is with that, by the way? That is not courteous), I was able to take the 144th Street exit and head toward mom’s. Then that traffic was shitty. So I took Blondo. Mom said, and I will swear in court that she said, meet me at the HyVee on 132nd and Blondo.

There is no HyVee on 132nd and Blondo.

I thought, well, maybe it’s like, just past the intersection. Nope. 120th and Blondo? Nope. Shit. I pulled into some random business parking lot on 117th and Blondo before I got any further and called mom. She told me to go back to 132nd and DODGE where the HYVEE is. FFS. At this point, I had just about lost it.

FINALLY, we met up at the HyVee. On 132nd and Dodge. And I got a coffee and a protein bar. We figured Dodge Expressway to I-80 was the way to go, and we slowly made it onto Dodge. Miraculously, traffic had totally opened up because I think at this point it was just past 8am. I-80 was also totally fine and we stumbled upon the correctional facility with ten minutes to spare.

Somehow.

We even had parking spots right across from the door.

Somehow.

We get inside and this woman is kind of waiting in the vestibule where some lockers are. She said that we’d need to put all of our stuff in the lockers, except for our IDs. She was there to visit an inmate and she was very helpful. We checked in and a very nice officer told us that she’d take us up about five minutes to 9am.

We each nervously used the restroom – not nervously, as in, we were nervous to use it.. but.. you know, nerves – and then it was time to go. There were only a few of us that were led back. We passed a few banks of computer screens hooked up to telephones. Apparently, when you visit an inmate, you don’t sit with glass between you – you essentially Skype while he or she remains on some other floor entirely. Super strange, but surprisingly high-tech, I think; and film/tv needs to get with the times. Nebraska has. 

(Speaking of Nebraska – WHAT A FILM).

We’re led to this room that has three rows of seats facing a wall with plexiglass windows. The windows look into the court room. The courtroom was normal-looking, but had bulky-ass plastic benches for the inmates. The judge looked jovial, so I took that as a good sign.

They switched on a speaker so that we could hear what was going on in the room, and much to our surprise, dad was called up first. Mom grabbed my hand.

I was leaning forward in the seat, like I was waiting for Jeremy Clarkson to tell me my lap time. I was trying so hard not to be nervous, and it was strangely easy in the end, because I didn’t even feel like I was watching reality happening in front of my eyes. It was almost like cognitive dissonance. I shouldn’t be here. What am I doing here? This isn’t where I’d spend my morning. Shouldn’t I be watching Law and Order to see a courtroom?

Oh, we were told not to wave at the inmates. Like, how inappropriate would that have been.

I think dad was up in front of the judge for sixty seconds or fewer. It reminded me of when I went to small-claims and had to plead guilty to speeding and get a lecture from the State of Nebraska representative. Yeah, yeah, okay, cool, just tell me what to pay and where to pay and let me get the hell out of this weirdness.

The judge said his bond was $25-sharp intake of breath-hundred, which meant his bail was $250. I actually had to stifle a laugh. Chump change, fool. (I’ll just say, we were incredibly over-prepared).

The very nice officer told us that we could go back to the lobby and meet with dad’s attorney. We were shocked that it was over already, not that we really cared to stick around, and ran down the hall back to the lobby. The attorney said that there’s a hearing in a few weeks and it’ll hopefully just get the kibosh. So incredibly stupid, the whole thing. Even the acting prosecutor fumbled around with what to do with the whole thing.

The other nice cop at the desk told us that we could pay the bond in about an hour, so we set off for Starbucks. (Holy shit, I think I really need to take stock in this company). I impressed some guy by doing the Omaha World Herald crossword in about three minutes. Maybe shorter than that, who knows. ‘Omaha’ was one of the answers. Also, mom’s and my horoscopes were creepily fitting.

Dad called mom while we were there. I got to talk to him and asked him if he was trying to show me up after my stint as an international fugitive. He said he was and that he was even going to start a blog about it. I was like, are you fucking kidding me? You’re going to show me up by blogging, too? He said he’d probably write his book before me, too. But I could be his ghostwriter. Sigh. Yeah, whatever.

We went back and found the cashier desk. Super nice dude working it. Mom asked him very politely if he had any idea about when we could expect to pick dad up after we’d paid. He said, anywhere from two to four hours usually. He left the desk to make a copy and then upon returning, he said, ‘you know, it’s lunch time, I wouldn’t be surprised if they came back and just took care of it and he was out by 1230pm.’ It was about 1015am at the time and I thought that was pretty damn good.

Mom had to go back to work, so I decided to stick around the downtown area, or at least eastern half of Omaha. I met Conor and got dad’s house key (I wasn’t sure if he was allowed to take anything, so I didn’t know if he had a key to get back into his place after Conor made sure it was secure the day before), I stopped by QT and got dad some Lipton peach tea, a Snickers, and two Salted Nut Rolls (his fav). I figured the food was similar to what I had in the detention center in London: not bad; not good, though.

I needed to stop by the bank for Conor and there happened to be one on 35th and Farnam, which would keep me in the general vicinity just in case. As soon as I parked, mom called and said dad was being processed and would be out soon. I quickly did my banking, or Conor’s rather, and headed back for the correctional facility.

I found a parking spot right across from the door, grabbed dad’s coat, and headed inside. I sat down on the bench in the vestibule, and soon a couple women came in. They started to walk into the main lobby and I said, ladies, you’ll actually have to put everything in these lockers, but keep your IDs out. They asked me if I worked there and I said, no, just had to deal with this shit once already, so I figured I’d save them the trouble of going back and forth or setting off the metal detector. Once they were sorted, dad appeared in the lobby.

As he came through the doors, one of the ladies said, well, thanks for the help, otherwise I’d have totally screwed this up. Dad said, hey, now, don’t say that – you are a smart person and you will do great. Again, trying to show me up. For God’s sake, already.

I felt like I was just picking him up from school or something. We just immediately started talking about what had gone on and the people he met and how nice everyone was (besides the asshole half of the good-cop-bad-cop routine he got the morning before), and then I gave him his goody bag and we set off for his house.

He seriously had written down about two pages worth of thoughts. He was totes serious about writing a blog. Actually, wait, I think he was more talking about journaling because then when I said, well, I could set you up a WordPress, he was like, ‘oh I think I’ll just use Word.’ What? That’s not online, dad. But I think he might actually post it. I’ll link it, if he does.

The funniest bit was that I did exactly the same thing while I was holed up in London. It was comforting to write. It was also something to do. Scarily alike, we two.

I would hope that this is wickedly obvious, but I had to introduce a note of levity. This whole situation was completely unexpected, totally jarring, wildly frustrating, and hilariously simple to handle. God wasn’t just on our side, He seemed to be hovering and bumping into us. I can’t really explain the calm I felt after a while. Sure, I might have slipped into a bit of bargaining with the big guy at one point, but it just had to be alright. That was it. It just had to be.

Without further ado: the emotions.

I recently wrote about a quote that I repeat constantly or that holds a lot of meaning to me, and I wrote about ‘everything happens for a reason.’ There were so many reasons for the past two days’ events, I couldn’t even begin to list them. The lessons I learned, we learned; the faith, the trust, the total surrender of the whole thing. It was completely out of our control, like everything else, and we knew that. Jo was here to help me and distract me; hell, I think to help mom and dad, too. She’s been a total babe about everything. Welcome to Nebraska.

Another thing that demands discussion is the love between my divorced-and-happily-engaged/married-to-other-people parents. And no, I don’t mean the in-love kind.

It took extreme courage and trust for my dad to call my mom at a time like this. He didn’t want to call either of us and burden us, and although he’ll say he could have probably called his mentor, there really wasn’t anyone else he could have called. She dealt with it before and she had no responsibility or obligation to deal with it now, but dad knew that he could ask her and that she would handle everything. She could have easily hung up and said, sorry, I can’t; just like she could have walked away over ten years ago and said the same thing. That wouldn’t have been the easy way out either time, because that’s not the person she is. She stands up and fights for what she believes and she will take care of us and protect us until the end. She’ll even do the same for her ex-husband. Which speaks really fucking loudly about her character.

And dad, even in a confusing and likely very frightening time, was able to turn to his ex-wife. She and dad had a good marriage for 25 years. Sure, there was shit, and sure, it ended in a civil, mutually-decided divorce. But there is an understanding and love between the two of them that completely floors me. It has been such a lesson for me. I don’t know if I’ve ever been more touched by an expression of compassion.

I’m unequivocally proud to be their daughter.

It’s odd, it’s still on the day (to me, anyway), and it feels like none of it really happened. I was struggling last night and tonight I’m not. Things really upset in the blink of an eye, but I tell you what, that feeling of serenity isn’t gone. It was with me from the moment we stepped into the correctional facility this morning. I pray that it stays with me. Because, I really can’t be bothered right now. And it’s wonderful.

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