Friday, February 13, 2009

Jailhouse Blog

We went to see our friends JJ and LB at the prison a few weekends ago. It was an adventure as always. We arrived a little later than we had hoped. Since getting the count right has been a persistent problem for the better part of this year, I was hoping we'd get there well before midday, but we just skated in around 11:30 or so. Of course the usual delays... since our son isn't a toddler anymore, they needed a new updated photo of him. Then there were the other usual issues. (my husband wasn't in the system.) For some strange reason, JJ always has issues with regard to our visitations. Either the brass insist that we have the wrong visiting day, or they can't find my husband on his roster, and this time they couldn't even find him in the system period! So when I was certain that My husband, Frank, was not going to get himself ejected by going into some sort of condescending tirade with the natives.... I left him to deal with his issue while Harley and I trekked on through search and the long walk to DR dorm trying our best to beat the count. And we did! I can't say as much for Frank. It took him about 45 minutes to get things straight, and the count did get messed up. ugh! But, we were all happy that no tirades were launched & everyone was where they should be. Everyone except JJ that is.

JJ finally made it out, but not before Frank almost got himself ejected yet AGAIN! You see, one of "the rules" is that you are not supposed to converse with any other inmate except the one you are there to see. ( Frank is on JJ's list, and I am on LBs list.) While Frank was waiting for JJ, he saw a few other friends milling about, so of course he saunters over giving them big hugs and chatting away as though he was at a baseball game. Frank is not a quiet man, so I'm sure the BMIC probably thought that he was not only breaking the rules, but being flagrant about it... hurling it in his authoritative face.... so he spoke with Frank, explaining the rule in a very civilized manner and asking him to keep to his table. Ok, so Frank then sits down (he is at the very next table to me Harley and LB) and he begins to ask LB who he likes in the Superbowl and they are talking about the season and the strategies of different teams and what teams deserved what, and etc... so BMIC can't believe the nerve of Frank! After he had just spoken to him and EXPLAINED the rule. (I am rolling my eyes by this point) So, now BMIC takes Frank for a little walk and they talk about the three strike principle and that now Frank is on his 2nd strike, "you get me?" Ok, so now Frank decides the only way to keep his yapper from yapping is to get a deck of cards and play some solitaire. That seemed to work. Whew!

I wanted to place a video here.... I have technical difficulties so all I could manage if you want to check out Elvis, click here:

Finally, JJ made it out and everyone was behaving like ladies and gentlemen. LB, Harley and I were busily playing dominoes. Building structures and snake like creatures and knocking them down. This is particularly fun when you are three! Then we lunched on our traditional Big Ass Chicken sandwich and LB had his usual sausage/egg croissant and we all shared the beloved honey mustard pretzel chips. Ahh a feast for all. Harley shared with me. (When they say Big Ass... they are not kidding.) So after lunch, Harley switched tables to sit with dad and JJ.

JJ and Harley have a special relationship. They draw pictures for each other (JJ is an amazing artist) and they like to play dominoes. Frank is no gamer slouch. In fact, he is one of the best gamers I know, but he actually was sitting out, letting ole JJ and Harley battle it out in a rousing game of high card. (Apparently, Frank was not getting any high cards and was getting bored!) So, the game is whoever gets the high card wins the pot (of dominoes). So that kept them all quite entertained. That and ice cream... and popcorn!

While they were male bonding, LB and I were busy catching up on more grown up topics. Not the least of which, blogging. If you did not read my first blog post, it was about LB and our New Years visit. I mentioned that there was a whole lot that I cannot blog about with regard to him for security reasons. I did however, pitch to him the idea of starting his own blog.... and much to my surprise he went for it! I'm really excited about this! I'm happy to be able to help give his voice an avenue for expression and happy that he has decided to take this opportunity. The name of the Blog will be "Life in Xanadu". Since he has no computer access, we have to do everything via snail mail. So while he is most interested in receiving and responding to comments, it will likely take a few weeks to get those responses... So please be patient.

I don't know what direction his blog with take, but I'm sure it will be fascinating.
Hope everyone drops by.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Oh Andy!

While watching Andy Griffith show, I found myself tearing up… Really? Me? Tearing up over Andy Griffith? WHAT? I've been watching this show for years, and never had this problem. I’m not a big waterworks person, so I sat up and took notice. After a few minutes of reflection, it hit me. The reason for the siffly tiny tear, and here it is.

On this simple show, there are so many lessons… Corny though they may be at times. Very important lessons about how to treat each other, and how to move in the world. In this particular episode, Aunt B was chosen by default to be the leading lady in the big production at the Annual Mayberry Pageant.

The primary leading lady got called away and was unable to perform. (As the episode continues, you realize that the primary is someone who has played this particular role in the play before) So moving along, Aunt B steps in and is practicing her heart out to get ready for her big debut. Try as she might, she was having so much trouble just remembering the lines, that her acting took a back seat. The director was unhappy with her performances and decided she must be replaced. Of course he approaches Andy first and it is decided that the news would be better to come from Andy than the director. Turns out, that Aunt B is so excited and dedicated to this project that Andy could not tell her…. In the meanwhile, the primary actress returns to town. Andy gets the idea to ask her to come over and help with the cooking and house chores. (hmmmm... there seems to be more up his sleeve...but what?) Well, when she arrives, the primary actress (can’t remember her name) is all too happy to cook meals and even apple pie every night till the pageant is finished. At some point she recites a portion of the speech that Aunt B has to make and has been having trouble with. She does it with great feeling and remembered all of the words, no problem. Needless to say, Aunt B has an “aha!” moment and decides that this woman is really the best choice for the role… and it was obvious that Aunt B realized how important she is to Andy and Opey, and gladly hands back the role to the other woman, then happily leads Opey into the kitchen to help make the apple pie.

The important part of this story and all of the others on this show, is that instead of just checking their problems off the list, by choosing the most logical, easiest or obvious solution, (Just tell the woman she can’t act!) the characters creatively solve their problems. Usually the problem solver turns out to be Andy, the town sheriff and amateur psychologist, but not always. He considers all the parties involved with the problem and comes up with a way to create a situation in which the person with the problem, is given the opportunity to discover the solution for themselves. No lecturing, very few hurt feelings while helping those around him to grow, and become more independent. His whacky antics and methods empower the other characters rather than squashing their self esteem. (Which as we know “toughens us up good”, but creates a whole other set of problems) Many times the characters with the “problem” rarely see Andy’s guiding involvement, but it’s clear that they feel it. It’s an artful way of showing love and simply allowing nature to unfold. It also shows the depth of his caring in a way that doesn’t need words. His actions speak loudly and it’s obvious that every person in this show is important and their thoughts, feelings and growth matter. wow.

Ok, yea, it’s a show and of course all the crazy antics seem to always work out in the end… not something that is guaranteed to happen in real life, and is greatly oversimplified to fit the 30 minute time slot. The point is that everywhere you look now, people are in a big hurry to “get er done”, and many times we do not allow time for creative reflection when solving our problems. We don’t give it our undivided attention. We obsess about it in between other things on our list and take the easiest way out because we can't stand the stress. I recently read something in a book about how to keep ourselves in mindfulness. What the author suggested was to treat every action as sacred. If you are bathing, bath yourself as you would the baby Jesus or Buddha. And when you interact with others, treat them as though they were the Jesus or Buddha. I think this is why this show got to me. Andy actually lives that way, even though he is not some great philosopher or guru. He is just a regular guy, doing what he does with great love and grace. Simple.