Let me tell ya’ll I love blogging. But I live for the comments. I usually don’t edit my blogs so after I write em I just go ahead and press publish. Henceforth, a lot of the time I don’t get exactly the intended message across. Then in the comment section I get to elaborate on what I was actually trying to say. I feel like I was giving a workshop and now I’m fielding questions. Anyway, I decided to repost, not for lack of original new material as I had suggested I would be getting back to but because I really liked this post when I wrote it and only about 3 people read it. And since people seem to be tuning in to see what else I have to say about relationships it’s time to bore yall with some details about life from “Tha G perspective” Suckers!
“Hov did that. So hopefully, ya’ll wouldn’t have to go through that.”
My friend Kawagalyn, Whom I’m happy to find read my blog, in response to an earlier entry, says that she’s Nina Mosley. So on that note let’s explore some of my other movie/tv connections. And then on to the entry.
Road to Perdition – Gian/Michael Sullivan, Dad/Mike Sullivan
Donnie Darko – Gian/Donnie, Mom/Rose Darko (there’s a part in the movie where Donnie asks his mom “How does it feel having a nutcase for a son?” and she says “It feels wonderful.”) Saia/Samantha Darko
The Simpsons – Gian/Bart, Saia/Lisa, mom/Marge, Lee/Milhouse
Family Guy – Gian/Brian, Brenton/Stewy
Do the right thing – Gian/Radio Raheem, The police/The police
Menace to society – Gian/Caine, Brandon Leblanc/Cousin Harold, Kibwe/O-dog, Jared Williams/Stacy,
Shawshank Redemption – Gian/Red, O.Shane/Andy Dufrane,
Star Wars – Gian/Obi Wan Kenobi, Raymond/Luke Skywalker, Stephen/Waddo, Policemen/storm troopers
School Daze – Gian/Half Pint, Leonard/Dap
City of God – Gian/Rocket, Jared Mckendall/Bene
So I’ve been to jail two times. Hopefully after sharing my experiences it will deter you all from a life of deviance. I’m afraid it’s too late for me. The first time I went to Jail was in February of 2003. I was a 24 year old black man, pretty old to be alive, but still young enough to be considered a threat to “The Man.” The first experience was definitely nothing to be proud of but there wasn’t anything that happened that didn’t happen worse the second time so I’ll digress here. I went back September 9, 2004. I remember this date for two reasons. One, it was the day after the beginning of the football season. And two, because it was a Friday. One of the things I was told was that my first experience with jail was fortunate because I went on a Wednesday. Had I gone on a Friday I would have had to stay over the weekend because the courts weren’t open on weekends. I was driving down N. Claiborne avenue after exiting at Esplanade. I merged in front of a policemen who was going to slow for me to merge behind. I’m sure he took offense to this but I was pretty sure that after the first time they arrested me that things had been properly taken care of and that my driving record was in no question. I turned the corner on Laharpe about 5 blocks away from the merger. I drove about 6 more blocks til I got to N. Galvez and made a right turn, the whole time being conscious of the policemen behind me who was obviously following me but whom I had given no reason thus far to stop me. After driving two blocks on Galvez I saw the police officer turn still behind me. So I put on my turn signals to pull over. I wasn’t about to let him sit there and follow me all the way home waiting for me to do something wrong. If he wanted to stop me he was going to think of a reason right then and there. Naturally the sirens came shortly after. They told me to exit the vehicle over their bullhorn. I stepped out, he asked for the normal documentation. He took about a 30 second trip over to the car and came back saying I was under arrest. Hardly enough time to run a license but surely enough time to confirm an identity. I asked him “for what?” and he said there was a warrant out for me.
The first time I was arrested I had a feeling that I would be taking a trip so I had the foresight to stick a book in my jacket. This time I was sure I was in the clear, so when he took me to the back of the Police car and started emptying my pockets, I worried that he would search my inside pocket in my jeans where I was keeping a substansial amount of money for poker playing. I had heard horror stories of corrupt policemen stealing money, and even more corrupt people who work inside the jail who would steal money when you checked in your property. I asked him if I could give my items to my cousin who was in the car with me. But I think he had designs on it so he only let Lee drive my car home. The first time I went to jail I had to sit in the back of the police car for an hour and a half before I even got to jail. For those of you not into bondage handcuffs are very unpleasant, especially when trying to sit comfortably in a backseat of a police car. Then I was stuck in Jail for about 4+ hours. I knew I was just at the beginning of a very long and very trying experience. After carting me around for about 30 minutes the two officers stepped out of the car to have a conversation, I’m sure, about my money. I can’t imagine why else they would need privacy from me and they certainly didn’t seem like they were interested in the serve and protect aspect of their job. They decided the better of it because I wasn’t the one to try to take advantage of.
So finally I made my way into jail. The first time I was there I took everything in, detesting every minute of it. This time the scene was all too familiar. I remembered every step of my first jail visit once I was back (in that way it was a lot like riding a bike) and the only thing that was different was that this time I knew what was going to happen and I had to face the hope of wishing that things would be different this time. They bring you in and leave you in a waiting room with other people waiting to be checked in. This part isn’t so terrible. It’s kind of like a doctors visit. It’s pretty boring and you just hope they hurry up and call your name so you can get everything over with. But it’s out in the open where there are all kinds of civillians prancing around so there’s no immediate worry. There’s just the pit of your stomach and the inevitability of the holding cell after going through several procedures in there including a property check in, a picture, booking paper information, and then the nurse.
So after you go to the nurse, you are allowed to make your phone calls. You sit in a lobby with a tv, other convicts in transition in jail, and the people who work there. This is the most comfortable part of jail except that it all ends too quickly when they move you and the rest of your colleagues into the holding cell. While sitting in the lobby I made several phone calls to everyone I could think of who I thought would answer their phone to expedite my exodus. I stressed a sense of urgency because I did not want to be there all weekend on the first week of the NFL season. The first time I called my mother from jail there was some shame but this time it was all frustration. I was positive I didn’t belong and that the police were trying to cover their ass. (As it turns out I did have outstanding warrants for some tickets that slipped through the cracks the first time) While sitting in the lobby I walked past this white guy also an arrestee. His eyes were red and he was crying. It didn’t seem to be scared crying, it seemed more like angry crying as if he had been unfairly incarcerated and he was so angry it made him cry. I thought to myself and almost expressed to him that he had better not take that into the holding cell with him. Rule number 1: there is no crying in jail. He already was at a disadvantage because he had to take his skin with him. The first time I had been there a guy made this white guy give him his jacket and started rummaging through his wallet. But I wasn’t here to make any boyfriends and that’s just the kind of thing that will endear someone to you in this place where no man can be more lonely. Then my stomach drops into my feet as the roundup call is heard all around the lobby. And all the eager, wanting faces behind the glass in the holding cell greet you as you walk in. When you walk in to the jail one of the first things that catches your eye is the holding cell. There’s so much energy coming from that direction. Pent up anger and anxiety seap through the glass. People looking to see if someone they recognize is coming in too. Hoping for a friend or a quick release. Maybe trying to catch the eye of a weak one who they can take advantage of who’ll be coming into the holding cell soon. I did very well to pick these things up in only a glance. I didn’t want much of my attention going in that direction. I’m glad I don’t have any illusions of being hard because If I would have made any gestures it would have been to the people I was about to be coupled with.
They shoveled us into the cell I thought I would not be treading to. The first time I went I was put in a cell with people with yellow wristbands which meant minor offenses like mine. Traffic, jaywalking, who knows. But this time I was wearing an orange wristband. Not a red wristband, thank God, which is what the rapist and murderers who get shipped straight upstairs have to wear but only one step down, the violent offenders. I walked in right in front of the white guy. When an officer comes to the door everyone gathers around hoping he has their name in his hand so they can get booked and released. This time there was only company joining so there was no cheering or jockeying for listening position, but dead silence. And I would not have remembered the silence or probably even noticed it being too wound up in my own fear except that after the sound of the door closing only one second of silence passed before I heard the packing sound of a fist hitting a face. I turned around, leaving my heart where it stood still. I don’t know if the white guy bumped into, made eye contact or just looked like somebody he knew, but this very large man with an angry scowl on his face had already delivered a seemingly unwarranted blow to the man’s face. By the time I made it around, the man was in half swing delivering a second blow landing squat on the white guy’s face and this time flooring him. Some of our other jail colleagues warned him that he would be better served to just stay down. I promptly took their advice sitting down against the wall and burying my face into my arms. I didn’t know what was on my face at the time But if it looked anything like the fear going through my bones I was certainly the next target. Although fear resonates more when you are younger, I have never been more afraid then I was in that momment sitting there. How long was I to be here? This is just the first hour of a possible weekend visit and already I’ve experienced more fear than in my entire adult life. The subsequent fear of hearing gun fire after getting shot stings for a minute. But I felt this in my soul. I was careful not to look at anyone. Thankful that I had not expressed friendship to this white guy who now needed it more than anytime in his life. I just sat in silence with only my randomly moving thoughts and my fear to accompany me.
After the man who had delivered the blow had been called out to be booked I felt a little safer and I could move on to other feelings, like boredom. If you’ve ever worked a job that you’ve detested, you only think you know what boredom is like, but you can empathize. There is no end of the day to look forward to. There is no feeling of gratification that you’ve accomplished anything waiting for you in your mind. There’s only time standing idle. You can’t move. You don’t want to. You can’t speak. You don’t want to. There’s nothing to take you away from where you are. You’re there and all that you can do is eat it, and watch it stymie you. Everytime the door opens your attention if not full body turn into the direction of the police. And you never listen more intently to anything than when you listen for your name to see if it’s time for you to get booked yet. Not that getting booked is the end of the line. You still have an indeterminate ammount of time to go even after that, but it’s like taking communion in Catholic Church. You know most of it is over it’s just up to the Priest to let you know it’s time to go. Of course they never call your name. There is no differentiation between the first name they call and the last name. So when they shut the door after the last name is read you’re still left hanging for a second. And then back to your lonliness, because now you can only put you attention back on yourself and the idle time. THis happens about 5 times before they actually call you. There is no lonlier place then jail. No one is your friend. Everyone in there would use you as an example if they thought they could to try to make their own situation better. It’s a completely different world in there. I come across people who have been in jail all the time on the streets of New Orleans. Being in their company, even talking to them is no problem. But in jail things change. Different personas are taken on. And that more than anything is what separates me from these people. I don’t have one of those. I don’t have a game face for jail. I’m not hard. I don’t need to be. Machismo and pride are as adopted a commodity as self absorbedness is in the real world. You automatically assume everything is a shot at your manhood, and you are constantly defensive, even to the smallest gesture. On Canal street if someone uses the phone and they are standing where they can touch you it’s shrugged off. In Jail it means that your space has been encroached and the only thing you can do is to let the other person know that you won’t have your space encroached cause you never know who’s watching the action. Furthermore someone might actually try to encroach on your space just as a test. And real men aren’t to be tested. At least that’s what I’m told. There is no one there for you. Only the memory of people you know and long for.
Your mother is the first to come to mind. The most nurturing entity of them is the one you long for the most. The protective, impenetrable arms of a mother to keep the bad men at bay. The only positive experience I had in jail was in those momments thinking about my mom. The only time time moved was when I thought of my mother’s fear. The fear of hearing the phone ring. Not knowing if it was another horror story about jail being passed on or if it was worse news yet. I sat there and thought about my mother and how afraid she must have been for her only son. Not knowing if he was going to be released. Worrying that all of the stories she had heard about people dying in holding cells would happen to her son. And worst of all not being able to do a thing about it. Wanting to trade places to protect her only son but having to sit by and watch the idle time stymie her. And I felt better. I felt optomistic. I felt my mother’s fear and her love and I felt my own love grow and my own fear subside. And I didn’t feel as lonely. and I knew in that momment that everything would be ok because There would come a day when I would see my mother’s face and she would hug me. And I wasn’t going to die because I had been, in this instant, saved and God knew that I was sorry for my sins and that I was ready to repent and be the Christian he wants me to be. And I wasn’t scared anymore, and for the briefest of momments I was happy. Almost so that a smile came to my face. This momment quckly brought me back to the present because Rule number 2: there is no smiling in jail.
So finally after a million hours they called my name. I was lined up with a bunch of other inmates. but they didn’t bring us to the lobby to be booked they brought us to the back of the jail which is the first stop before you are sent upstairs, which with this being a Friday means, for the weekend. It was to my understanding that once you are upstairs there is no coming back downstairs. So as I sat on the bench being prepped to be fitted for my orange garments I accepted my fate that I would have new more unsavory roomates then my cousin Lee. Then suddenly a reprieve. My name was called again. There’s no greater feeling than having your name called in Jail. It means that they need something from you and it’s usually towards your release. They informed each other that my bond had been posted and that all I had to do was wait for Jefferson Parish prisons to come pick me up cause I was to be transferred there. I walked back to the holding cell I started in with renewed confidence because I had overheard talk form other prisoners who seemed more familiar with the penal process. They had all said that JP was easy doing and you were in and out of their system in no time. As I sat back amongst my comrades, also waiting for the JP bus one of the few moments of levity passed through me, however brief. After several hours I accepted the fact that the bus was going to show up when it was good and ready and not a second sooner.
So now the boredom, and the anxiety everytime the police come to the door returns. It’s late and the desire to sleep seems within grasp so I desparately try to hang on to it. Once sleep sets in for about an hour the uncomfortablility of sleeplesness begins. There’s no greater feeling of accomplishment than sleeping through something that you’re in no mood for. Conversely there’s no greater disappointment then when the cold slab of concrete under your ass wakes you after only an hour of what you hoped would have been ten hours of sleep. The only difference between the bench and the floor is that one is raised and possibly more prestigous so now you have to worry about someone challenging you for a seat on the bench. I don’t know that there is any harder surface than the bench in OPP holding cell after you’ve sat on it for more than two hours. Every fifteen min pain, anxiety and Cold wake me just enough to turn myself into a less uncomfortable position. Still brushing up against another man also sitting in a jail cell. When you finally wake for good. Your boredom has turned to frustration. You’re still stuck like an animal but now you’re really ready to go. instead of a letdown everytime the police leaves without telling you your time’s up, now there’s the sucking of teeth or the flailing of arms. Short patience and jail do not good bed-fellows make. The next morning when I awake for the tenth time they are shifting all of the prisoners who need to be transferred to another cell. Now all our hopes are up only to have more holding cells in the back await us. On the way back we pass other cells. Inmates who were once ou roomate including Mike Tyson are in these cells(thank God he wasn’t out in the city) we pass a cell with one former cellmate of mine who is now chained to the bench. He came in hich on exstacy and was a little to jumpy which I guess got him in a fight with someone in the waiting area while he was being booked. As we sit in this new, colder cell I am so exhausted and weary but still sleepless. One of our cellmates begins talking about nothing in particular and does not stop for 2 hours I shit you not. Several times in my weariness I catch myself from muttering the words “Shut the fuck up” before they can leave my mouth. But my ears hurt from his incessant story telling about how much jail experience he has. Once we make it to the van to be transferred the rest was pretty smooth sailing but nothing I could get used to. The good thing about jail is that it gives you a nice healthy dose of perspective. No breath is better than the first breath you breathe after leaving jail. No shower is better than washing the jail off you. No sleep is better than your own bed after sleeping upright on concrete. And no hug is better than your mom happy that you’re safe and back where she can fit her impenetrable protective arms around you.