Friday, July 28, 2006

Unfortunate Reality

I was at work the other day when I realized just how much being employed at a jail affects a person. Not only do I see some of the lowest people on the totem pole, so to speak, I also have to talk at length to many moms, dads, sisters, brothers and any number of other family members and friends who just don't get the whole jail process. I come away some days with the question "how do people do this stuff?" Not only do they do it, most of them seem to think its okay since everyone else is doing it. We have the really bad people (murder 1st degree) and drug traffickers down to the lady who forgot to pay her fines and got a warrant slapped on her. Oh and let's not forget the lady who was drunk and ran into someone killing them, but kept on driving. Let's just say I was very upset to learn the Judge gave her an OR bond, which means no money had to be put up, she was just released on her own recognizance. I can't imagine being the family of the victim and knowing that the person who killed my family member is out on the streets waiting for her court date instead of sitting in jail thinking about what she had done. Sometimes the justice system really stinketh.
Just this week we arrested a couple guys. One was found nearly dead in the backseat of a car with a needle sticking out of his arm after just pushing a near lethal dose of herion into his veins. EMTs brought him back around after some work. The other guy was so pumped with heroin he didn't even know what was going on. If his mugshot was any indication, I am glad I wasn't around when he came in. The worst is when they start withdrawing and there is very close to nothing we can do for them besides give them a few meds.
I've been at the jail for over a year now and it has given me a whole new idea of what the term "frequent flyer" means. We have several of them, some we see almost weekly. You would think that being in jail 22 times was enough, but a certain gentleman decided to visit us again this week for the 23rd time since 1999. I am convinced we probably had him even more times but the computers crashed in 1999 and we don't have any information from before that. What's even more sad, I know he must know something about God from somewhere. I wonder if he went to Sunday school as a boy or his grandma read him Bible stories.
To get the full effect you have to understand the methods a jail employs to control its inmates. There are various ways to do it, most are harmless, like cutting off their commissary privileges which just means they can't buy anything like snacks, pop or envelopes for a while. For the more unruly ones, we use a restraint chair, basically a metal chair with straps every few inches, designed to totally restrict the movement of every appendage and part of the body. We put this frequent flyer of now 23 visits into the chair when he came in because he would not control himself. He decided to serenade everyone within hearing distance, and no, he did not have a good voice. But what struck me the hardest was his choice of song, or rather hymn: "The Old Rugged Cross." WOW! I am not sure what else to say but that. The above picture is looking into a direct supervision cell, meaning 1 deputy, 64 inmates are together into the cell. These inmates however are free to leave the cell and go outside at any time as long as they are not on restriction and they have their pass card.

So let's just say after another hard week of dealing with these types of people, it makes me wonder how the deputies can handle their 12 hour shifts and yet they do their jobs very well. Things are even tougher right now as far as security goes because we are adding on to the jail. Right now we have under 300 beds. We are going to have over 700 beds when the building is completed in the next couple years. I admire those folks who have to deal with the inmates on a daily basis. I am convinced most people never even give a second thought to how a jail runs or the kinds of situations deputies have to put up with.
A young female deputy at the jail who is getting married the same day as I am, was placing an inmate in the restraint chair when the inmate became violent, pitching her body around. Deputy Armstrong called for assistance and tried to hold the inmate under control until the others arrived. In the meantime, the inmate furiously scratched the deputy's face leaving long red streaks down the sides of her face, drawing blood. She had to push her engagement pictures out because it left scabs on her face for a while.
My own job is somewhat limited in interaction with the inmates, although it's not unusual for me to be in the cells or booking area. I enjoy the fact that I never know exactly what a day might hold. Just recently a female police officer was bringing in a male inmate. I figure in his mind he was thinking "I can take on this chick." He took off down the street, still in handcuffs. Not sure how far he thought he was going to get. He got about 300 feet before she tackled him. I wonder what goes through their mind. "She has a gun, I have handcuffs, I know I can make it!". You'd think they would realize things are a little out of wack, but then again they were probably arrested because they weren't thinking too clearly anyway.
I really don't think the general public even thinks about what goes on in a jail except for the fact that that's where the law breakers end up. I try to tell my co-workers that they are doing a good job when I see them dealing with these kinds of situations on a daily basis. If you know any law enforcement personnel, I would encourage you to let them know you appreciate what they do for you and the community.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Pink Memories

I hesitate to write about this weekend's rather embarrassing events but I think I have something important to say. My wonderful Matron of Honor decided to throw a "personal" shower for me. I was only too happy to oblige as I have very little of these unmentionables for obvious reasons. I subsequently began to prepare myself for the upcoming event, assuring myself that surely no one would strive to embarrass me too badly.

Apparently I didn't prepare myself too well, because I woke up at 6:30 the morning of the shower and because of the churning of my tummy, could not go back to sleep. Breakfast thoughts were quickly extinguished by visions of possible "cookie tossing" later that morning. The shower was slated for noon. My wonderful friend and boss of 6 years allowed us to have the shower in her beautiful home. Little did I know she was later to become the main instigator of a rather unsavory plot. My friends and family decorated the bottom level of the home nicely in pinks, reds and hearts. It was a lovely affair. We played several games in which my sister insisted on being the comedian. I admit she is rather funny at times. I have no clue where she gets it from! The normal pictures of the bride and her friends, family and co-workers were snapped for future reminiscing. Then came the part I had been torturing myself about--gift opening. Stomach in knots does not begin to explain it. I knew for certain my mother would be kind to me. As for the nightmares did indeed come true. A pink piece of decorating tulle was placed over my face. But that didn't really help that much, they could still tell I was quite red under there. However, once everything was said and done, I would not have wanted it any other way. My friends and family were more than generous with their gifts and laughter. I think we often take for granted those closest to us. No matter how embarrassed I was, I was thankful that God has given me such a wonderful group of friends and family. Because of the huge change about to take place in my life, I seem to be focusing even more on how much God has given me: a wonderful family and soon to be wonderful in-laws.

With the recent passing of my both my grand-parents, who died 3 months apart, life has taken on a more serious glow. Time is short and relationships are more important than I had thought previously.
Seeing my grandfather, a Korean war hero, lying as if he were sleeping really made me wonder about this whole episode we call "life." He is in heaven now and I imagine sometimes that he can see us. He was a rather teasing fellow and I wonder if the angels have to slap his arm once in a while because he is picking on them.
Yet I see him saluting proudly, dressed in full army regalia, Silver Star and all, giving honor and majesty to the One who created him. Grandpa wasn't much of a singer but I imagine the Creator doesn't mind the gruff notes or sharp tones. The rose below is from my Grandpa's funeral. It's lovely here but was soon dead and dry. In a way it reminds me of life itself.
In the daily grind of life, I forget that there is more than just work and play. There is eternity, an unimaginable infinite space of time, something we earth-sitters cannot comprehend, and I imagine Grandpa is only now beginning to understand. I have been challenged to live "in the light of eternity." New cars, though nice, aren't that important when you realize that God doesn't particularly care about that. He is more interested in what you are doing for Him; what you are doing to tell others that there is more to this life than just wandering this earth.
If you don't know Jesus, ask me about Him. I would hate to think that you know ABOUT Him, but don't KNOW Him. Knowing about Him, doesn't count for much. You have to get to know Him personally. Many people know about God, know the story of Jesus' death on the cross, but they have limited the story to that. What about when He rose victorious over death and hell? Making it possible for us to join Him for eternity. Makes things of this world seem insignifcant, doesn't it? Even my Grandpa's service to his country, though heroic, didn't save him. He had to ASK for forgiveness. If you knew that my mother had been praying for him her entire life, you would understand the sheer joy we experienced when my Grandpa came to KNOW Jesus as his Savior. Death doesn't have the same effect. It simply becomes a phase of life through which we must pass. "Death has been swallowed up in victory." (I Cor. 15:54b)

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Evening Inspiration

I have this certain adversity to being disciplined on Saturday. I think perhaps the very word Saturday inspires a rebellion in and of itself, which could explain why I was still awake at 2:30 on Saturday morning. The fact that my work week does not include Saturday seemingly sets me free to be as lazy as possible. And we must also take into consideration that if Mother Nature decides this earth needs a bath on any given Saturday, it seems only right that I shouldn't interrupt her by popping up my olive green umbrella to ward off her showers. So I take the opportunity to sleep while she continues her work.

Of course, that doesn't give me an excuse for this Saturday. I awoke at a bright and early 12:30pm. Early afternoon that is. The sun was shining so brightly it is a wonder that alone didn't wake me. My current bed is not actually a bed at all. It is a 1986 blue 6 foot couch with three cushions that refuse to stay in their correct positions. It is situated in the living room so that I am facing the large glass patio doors. It is also a wonder that I didn't hear my sister and her friend walk right by me to the front door, as they eagerly anticipated their morning swim. The door even has 4 golden bells on it. (Perhaps I should get my hearing checked? The door is 10 foot away.) Our room mate was heading out the door as I was falling out of the couch.

Approximately an hour later, I was standing in JCPenney when my cellular rang. I glanced at the read out and it was not a number I recognized but I answered it anyway. "Where are you?" my sister asked. I answered "the mall." Apparently she and her friend had returned to the apartment to find themselves locked out. Now how was I to know they were down the block at the pool? They were standing in the upstairs hall outside our door, dripping wet. I found it rather hilarious myself until I realized she called me because I was supposed to come and unlock it for them. (I did actually find a way out of that assignment.)

I spent the rest of the afternoon searching high and low for a gift. Apparently September is the month for weddings. A friend of mine is also getting married that month and her shower is tomorrow. I decided on a hodge podge of items, including but not limited to: candles, wicker balls, a basket, sconces etc. After about 9 foot of wired ribbon and 7 foot of small regular ribbon, I was able to make a bow. La Senora did her best to educate us in all things quilts and scrapbooking but I don't recall a class on "bow" making. So after about 20 minutes of trying, this is what I came up with. I emailed the picture to my mom (the most creative preson I know) and she gave her stamp of approval so that is something I admit. Of course this creative ribbon making session had been preceded by a rather long and heated discussion.
I had been out furniture "shopping." It is quite hard to shop with no money but nonetheless I gave the appearance. A nice light tan leather couch had caught my attention. In my price range (or at least my future price range) I was sure my fiance would be as delighted. He was until he realized he would not be permitted to eat on the couch. I insisted the dining room would suit nicely for stuffing one's face. Compromise! I think that is a key word in a relationship. I agreed that eating on the brand new light leather couch could possibly be permitted if thick blankets were covering every inch of exposed leather. Mr. Cottage Cheese and Pineapple also compromised and agreed that perhaps the dining room would be an acceptable place to eat as well. I am glad God has given me a man who is willingly to compromise. I can't imagine what it would be like otherwise.
Not long ago, Jason was in Kentucky and insisted on a "surprise" date. We had agreed to dress up and get a few pictures taken. My roommate, BB, as she is affectionately called, is quite good with a camera and obliged. It was pretty warm outside so we didn't get many pictures, but I was happy with the results. Keep in mind that we had our pictures taken in a cemetary, granted, a rather nicely landscaped one. After a few pictures later, we escaped the graveyard and headed out. I insisted he tell me which state it was in, Indiana, Ohio or Kentucky. I deduced it was in Kentucky. That eliminated my guess of Montgomery Inn, until I realized there was a Montgomery Inn in Kentucky. I said "that's where we are going, isn't it?" He grinned and said " I can't believe how good a guesser you are." Then we passed the exit to the restaurant and I gave him a puzzled look. He explained " I didn't say you guessed correctly, I just said you were a good guesser." I punched him on the arm and tried to quickly come up with another restaurant. Nothing came to mind. As we neared the Ohio River, I just couldn't think of another restaurant. He had said that I hadn't been there before. Then we turned into a hotel parking lot.
The Radisson!! If you've ever been down 75 south through Cincinnati and over the river, you can see the Radisson right beside the highway. It is a circular building. The top floor is a revolving restaurant. I was quite excited. We found our seats without falling. It's rather interesting to realize you are walking on a moving floor. We requested a table on the outside near the window. After being there for an hour and a half, we had rotated back to our original position, facing south, but the city on the north was beautiful during sunset. In the picture, Paul Brown Stadium (Bengals) is on the left and the Great American Ball Park (Reds) is on the right. Yes, I would have to say I do have a rather wonderful, romantic fiance. Sometimes I feel like I have to keep up with him in the romantic idea department but that's okay. If you ever get a chance, it is a very neat place. You don't actually have to order anything from the restaurant. They have a lounge area with couches and chairs to just sit and watch the cities (or states) go by. What can I say? God must have known I needed someone with a few romantic bones in his body, because I seem to have trouble in that area. That's not to say I don't like being romantic, I am just not as creative as he is. I love you, Jason David Baker.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Who would have thought? Certainly not I. My desire at 18 was simply to escape "small town" USA and attend college, where hopefully I wouldn't shame my parents or my family. Turns out God does make smart blondes. Not only did I graduate, I actually accomplished a fairly good GPA considering I worked full-time to put myself through the last couple years.
Alas, college seemed almost boring to me. The only parties I attended were bridal showers and dorm "parties" called by the Dean of Women to enforce some forgotten rule we had apparently broken in our ignorance. Well, not to forget the "ladies" late night in the gym where we were given permission to wear short sleeves. Of course, no males were in attendance so even the most timid and conservative gals went wild, wearing risque 3 inch sleeves and knee length skirts. Yes, of course you laugh, but believe me it was the highlight of the week.
I thought perhaps leaving my country home and living it up in the big city would give me some rather interesting experiences. The world didn't let me down. How does one describe sharing 3 seats with a 500+ pound woman on the city bus? All was well when I boarded. Three empty seats running along the wall behind the driver were perfect for me after a stressful afternoon of running throughout the office, trying to make sure each attorney had their "ego tank" filled before I left for the day. I sighed and sank wearily to the seat for the 10 minute trip to the top of Mt. Auburn where my 10x14 room was hopefully cool enough to bear for the evening. I never saw her climb aboard, but I was certainly abruptly shaken from my imaginative world when half of my body was subjected to a large mass...of something. Perhaps she had no nerve endings in that particular part of her body, or her eyesight was so poor she didn't see a 5'10" blonde occupying the row of seats, how else could you not see me? Clearing my throat was not an option. Who wants to be subjected to such a woman's wrath?
Then the next problem popped into my head. How on earth was I going to reach up and pull the cord when my bus stop came into view? More than a few inches movement would be required. I sat silently hoping someone would rescue me, perhaps a knight, even in tarnished armor, would be better than nothing. We turned up the last hill and no one was waiting at my bus stop. My hopes dashed, I refused to let this obvious Cincinnati native best this country girl. I pulled my numb arm out from under her posterior and hastily reached for the cord. I was relieved, for once, that my long arms were actually coming in handy. When I finally disengaged myself, I felt rather ruffled, but I stepped off the bus, confident that I had bested Cincinnati in all it's glory...or something like that.
Then there was the time one of the hundreds of downtown "panhandlers" decided that this tall blonde exiting her red truck looked like a perfect "donator" to her cause. Apparently this 50 year old woman had a small baby and needed money for diapers. I might not be that bright, but I am definitely not that dull either. I suggested a job might solve her problems. Talking about pushing the wrong button. I was almost late for work!
Somewhere in the mass of memories and interesting experiences, a certain fellow stands out. Rather studious looking, but cute in his own way. Lunches together in the cafeteria weren't uncommon, but the cottage cheese and pineapple mashed together on his plate always got to me. How do they eat that stuff? He insisted I hadn't truly experienced the Taste of Cincinnati without the concoction. Well, perhaps not in so many words, but that was kinda the vibes I was getting from across the table.
Graduation was possibly the most exciting day of my life to that point. I could hardly wait to wear short sleeves again. One learns never to take things for granted. Don't asked me who spoke at the graduation because I have no idea. I do remember my friend Amy and I cracking up pretty much the entire ceremony. Who knew our last names would put us side by side? Lavy and Miles, perfect, especially since we were in the back row! Not like they could kick us out or anything. We had served our time and even pulled out some good grades along the way.
Next thing I know I had been living in an apartment with my sister for a year. My then boyfriend decided things weren't right and we mutually agreed to cut it off after a year and three months of dating. No worries! Mr. Cottage Cheese and Pineapple was there to pick me up...emotionally and relationally. Interestingly enough he was in town the weekend of our breakup and offered to take me to dinner at TGI Fridays and let me unload on him. And as they say, the rest is history, folks!
September 30, 2006 is the big day. The day I give up my independence, which is saying a whole heap, especially if you know me well. But you know, there is just something special about cottage cheese and pineapple when you think about it. I am not sure what it is yet, but I am sure I will find out some day.
I am not really dumb (I promise), but when your boyfriend rents a car (with a bench seat) and drives you to Nashville, TN for a surpise date, admit it. You would be suspicious right? Not I! Me being the smart blonde that I am, insisted to those around me that it was only a surprise date. It was true I didn't know at that point we would be driving so far for a date, but nonetheless, there were certain other factors that deemed this weekend date the same as all others for the most part.
Ahem, when the cutest youth pastor I know, drives me up to the front of the Opryland Gardens in Nashville, you would think my heart would start pounding. Could he ask me THE question here. Nope! Not I, I was too excited about getting to see the 7 acres of indoor gardens including water falls, massive water geysers, the 400 seat indoor garden restaurant and of course flowers, greenery and the indoor river. Ben and Jerry's icecream accompanied our conversation. I took more than 100 pictures on my Kodak digital camera and was generally having the time of my life. He insisted we sit and talk on a small black wrought iron bench in the Magnolia Garden. I was only too pleased to oblige as I was tired of walking and I admit, my right index finger did have a certain reflex going on, to the effect of punching the camera button. General talk ensued and a rather interesting version of our life stories spilled from his lips. I am afraid my thoughts did wonder briefly, and it was enough for him to ask "are you paying attention to me?" I assured him I was.
Only then did my heart stop. He was on one knee holding out a small rosy colored box, too big for a ring, too small and square for a necklace, but I knew immediately what it was. A Jennifer Lopez heart shaped watch. "Will you marry me?" Now what was I supposed to say to that? Again, being as astute as I am, I promptly started crying wherewith, shakes and knee knocking also ensued. I couldn't think of anything else to do but kiss him and say "yes."
Yeah I know, real tear-jerker huh? When you meet this guy, you can't help but love him. I did, and still do and will forever. Jason David Baker, I love you with all my heart.