Jail

It’s time. I’ve been sitting on this story for a while now but today is the day that I must start spinning my epic yarn. I’m sure I’m going to have to break it down into parts, otherwise I’ll be writing for days. Before I get started it must be told that I come from a family with a lot of legal knowledge. My dad is a lawyer. My mom was a paralegal. My sister worked at the Franklin County Courthouse. My dad’s new wife is a former Franklin County Judge and current attorney. And my part in this long line of impressive legal heroes? Jail Bird. Here goes PART 1:

October 18, 2011. A Tuesday. I had just returned to Colorado from a trip to Ohio for a wedding and visit with friends and family. And, yes, I saw my boyfriend while I was in town. Matt and I were less than two months away from our court date to finalize our divorce. Unfortunately, we still inhabited the same house despite the fact that he was supposed to vacate the premises due to an increase in his menacing behavior. When asked by his attorney why he hadn’t vacated, he simply said that he merely thought it was “a suggestion.” Regardless, we were separated and the divorce was pending. Things were stressful to say the least.

The Incident: Matt informed me that Madeline had stayed home from school the prior day because she had pink eye. He hadn’t made me aware of her condition prior to this statement so I asked, “Is she supposed to stay home today?” His response was, “Go ask her yourself.” So, I headed downstairs to wake her up and ask her myself. As I was walking down the stairs, Matt pushed by me and jumped ahead of me. He then ran into the room where Madeline was sleeping and jumped ON TOP OF HER and started screaming “JUST LEAVE US ALONE, SARAH!” and “YOU’RE A LIAR, SARAH!” Madeline woke up to mass confusion and Matt screaming at me while he was on top of her. He was positioned on his stomach. In order to get to her, I scooped my arms under his arm and leg to roll him off of her. It was not violent. Basically, all I did was move him so I could get to Madeline. He continued to scream at me. I placed my hands on his face trying to get his attention. Again, it was not violent. I was trying to get him to make eye contact with me to tell him to SHUT UP! His screaming was just making it worse for Madeline. At that point he said “I’m calling the cops.” I comforted a sobbing Madeline as he left the room. His concern was not for her. Her wide eyes wet with tears, she shakily asked why daddy was going to call the cops. I simply said I didn’t know. I took her upstairs to get her ready for school. On my way up the stairs, I took a moment to text my boyfriend to say “Matt just called the cops.”

The morning went on as usual. I got breakfast ready for Ben and Madeline. I made lunches. I got them dressed. Ben had cut his hair at school for some odd reason so I was trying to even that up when the cops arrived. Matt met them outside. I overheard him saying that I was finished “raging” and had calmed down considerably. So, I can only imagine what he said during his original 911 call. The cops talked to Matt while the kids were eating breakfast. Then the cops talked to me. I told them exactly what happened. Unfortunately, I know now that in Colorado, regardless of the circumstances of a domestic call, that one party will be going to jail. It doesn’t matter what the story is. Somebody goes. So when the cops spun me around and affixed my arms with plastic handcuffs, in front of my crying children and a smirking Matt, I was in complete shock. Madeline cried “But mommy didn’t do anything wrong.” I hadn’t. In fact, Matt’s exact words on the police report were “I was shocked and alarmed.” Not that he was hurt. Not that he felt threatened. Not that he was scared for his life. He was “shocked and alarmed.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but if society routinely arrested people for shocking and alarming others, well, ย most of the world would be behind bars.

The cop went into total “bad-ass” mode. I didn’t have my shoes. All I had on were sweatpants and a t-shirt. No coat. No shoes. He asked if I wanted shoes. I said yes. In my confusion I started looking around for my shoes and he said “play your games somewhere else,” and pushed me out the door. I walked across the street to the cruiser with two policemen guiding me. It was October. It was 7:34 in the morning. It was cold. My feet and mind were completely numb as they ducked me into the car. And off we went.

The cop called ahead to the jail that they were bringing me in. I was sitting on the edge of the hard plastic seat because the cuffs made it impossible to sit all the way back. Plus, it was gross. I didn’t say a word. The cop told me that I should be ashamed of myself. I didn’t respond. Then, he said, much to my surprise, that my husband should be ashamed, too. That made it clear to me that they found his call to be a total over-reaction and completely unnecessary. But, the law is the law, and since he made the call, I was the one arrested. Funny how criminals find amazing loopholes to jump through but those who are not guilty have to face something they truly don’t deserve.

Riveting so far, right? I hate reliving this part because it’s STUPID. And I’d like to remind you that there are TWO SIDES to every story. This is MY side. Anyone who knows Matt got his side long ago. Unfortunately, it’s necessary to tell this piece because the average reader needs to know the “WHY” part of my being in jail. It was so unnecessary and a total play to ultimately hurt me, but the story gets better from here. I came away with an incredible experience that has only made me stronger. Plus, now I have street-cred. Anyway, tune in soon for Part II.

 

Barefoot

For so many years I kept my feet under tight wraps. I was of the mindset that the thicker the socks the better. I can pinpoint a couple of reasons why feet were a distress-filled trigger for me: my step-sister was missing a couple of toes and traumatized me deeply with her left-over raisin-like nubs. She would invoke her most spooky sounding voice and say “they’re coming to get you…,” much like the opening scene from “Night of the Living Dead.” I would run for my life around the tiny confines of the bedroom that I was forced to share with her on my rare sleep-overs at dad’s house until I collapsed, searching for breath, as her toe-nubs victoriously made contact with my sensitive skin. It wasn’t her fault that she didn’t have toes, but she certainly didn’t use her lack of toes for GOOD.

Then there was the fact that the paleness of my skin made me so self-conscious. Honest-to-Pete, I didn’t willingly wear sandals until I was around 25. I hated the sight of the tops of my feet. My first pedicure took place when a girlfriend plied me with wine and FORCED me to allow her to paint my nails. I was 30 years old. I know it’s weird, but that’s a special skill of mine: weirdness.

My mother was from South Carolina and we would travel there for a family reunion every August. It was always sweltering. Again, due to my issues with being pale, I would wear sweatpants and tennis shoes despite the ridiculous heat. One of my cousins encouraged me to take off my shoes while we were swinging outside. Eventually, I did. I allowed my feet to skid through the silty sand and within seconds they were completely filthy. I was so bothered by how foreign the dirt felt on my skin that I would run inside every five minutes to rinse off my feet. My relatives thought (and probably still think) that I’m completely nuts.

Now that I’ve entered into my middle-aged years, I’ve learned that it feels good to step on soft grass warmed by the sun or splash in a puddle with a child-like enthusiasm. My feet are still wildly pale but it doesn’t bother me anymore. I’d rather kick off my shoes and experience the pleasures (and occasional pain – like stepping on a Lego) than deny my senses of what’s waiting out there just for me.

It’s funny that my friend, Paula Wagner, gave me the word Barefoot on a day that we’re being plied with many inches of snow. I’m sitting on my couch (with my socks off) only going outside to let my dogs relieve themselves. Yoshi loves his barefoot status where Princess is more of a “You want me to go WHERE?” I should really get her some boots. It’s funny to watch her find a way to go potty using as few paws as possible.

I don’t wanna talk about feet anymore. I want to talk about Paula Wagner because she’s awesome! I met her at Ohio University in 1986. I was still painfully shy, which came off to others as abrupt and rude. She was walking by my room as we were moving in Freshman year. I was hanging up a poster of Jim Morrison on my wall. She said, “Hey! Do you like The Doors?” Apparently, I muttered a simple “Yes” and closed my door. I was so happy that someone spoke to me but just didn’t know how to handle it. I had very poor social skills. ๐Ÿ™‚ Regardless, she kept at it. Tenacity is certainly a good descriptor of my dear, sweet friend. Eventually, thanks to her, we became life-long friends. We roomed together in my very first apartment. We’ve had a bazillion adventures together. We even have secret passwords. She was the friend I’d been waiting for. A sister. A social skills mentor. Paula had a sense of confidence in herself that I sorely lacked. I admired her for it.

Honestly, I could write a book about how I perceive our friendship and some of the adventures we’ve had. Her ability to embrace life showed me that I could (and should) do that myself. Paula, your friendship was the beginning of my awakening as a human being. And I’m so grateful that all these years later, we still know each other. I’m not just saying that because you live in Hawaii and I wanna come visit. ๐Ÿ˜‰ But you really and truly are a beautiful piece of my life. Remember that day you called me (about 15 years ago) and I’d just made myself a Bloody Mary? We talked for so long that I went through nearly a whole bottle of Bloody Mary mix and by the end of it I was sloppily baring my soul about what an incredible friend you are and how you’re the best friend I ever had? Well, I know that is the most cliche thing a drunk person can do – and I did pass out in the bathroom after our conversation – but I’m sitting here on my couch, barefoot and 100% sober, and I’d like to say the same thing. You were a game-changer for me. I owe so very much to you and your friendship. Without you, I’d have no paprika. And that’s the spice of life.

If you don’t know Paula Wagner, you should. Besides, she lives in Hawaii! I think we should get a big fat group together and go crash her wonderfulness. That would be the perfect remedy for a snowy day. Who wants to go? I’ll drive.

Paranormal

So, I asked for this word a while ago and didn’t stick to my plan of writing about it right away. It wasn’t out of apathy over the potential path of the topic, I just got stuck. And then I got busy. Then I got a concussion (skiing on a GREEN RUN at A-Basin!). And now I have a cold. Seeing how there will always be something trying to keep me apart from writing I figured I just needed to buckle down and deal with it already.

I’ve never seen a ghost. I’ve certainly had intermittent odd feelings (pseudo-supernatural?) over the course of my life but have never seen – nor do I really want to see – an apparition. I figure if they have unfinished business with me they can leave a message at the front desk that I’ll receive when I check in, wherever that may be. I’m sure if modern technology can span the globe like it does these days, then there must be a way to communicate between heaven and hell. You can Instant Message in heaven but the only mail carrier in Hell is the USPS? I don’t know. I’m just assuming here.

Regardless, I know many people who have had experiences. In fact, my son has had a couple. Like me, he hasn’t seen anything but he’s spoken in clear detail about two experiences: One was about a kiddo who died when Ben was younger, and the other was when we toured the Stanley Hotel last year. The Stanley is located in Estes Park. It has a beautiful, rich history, and just happens to be the hotel Stephen King was staying in when he was inspired to write “The Shining.” Apparently, the fourth floor has the most paranormal activity and the moment we stepped onto that floor with the tour guide, Ben grabbed my arm and drew very close. The hair on his arm was standing up and he said “I don’t like it here.” We’d been on the tour for about 45 minutes prior to this piece but this was the first time that he reacted like he did. He was clearly freaked out. Shortly after, the tour guide explained some of the paranormal shenanigans that commonly occurred on that floor, many of them involving children. It was a wild experience and certainly left Ben feeling very uneasy. I believe that he has a sensitivity to such things. He is wise beyond his years and is able to see and feel things that most people simply cannot comprehend.

Meanwhile, my daughter is CRAZY about scary stuff. In fact, I’m taking her for an overnight stay at the Stanley for her birthday in two weeks. She is so excited and specifically asked to stay in a haunted room. I did NOT put in that request with the front desk because I’m not sure my nerves could handle it! It’s her big wish though (and there was a Groupon offering an awesome deal) so off we go. I’m sure I’ll have a great blog post after our stay there!

I do like to be scared on a small scale. My brother and I used to have scary movie marathons when we were younger. We could act out “Halloween” in its entirety (minus the naked scene). My step-mom always let us watch the craziest stuff on HBO back in the day. It was one of my happier memories from my kid-years. But just because I like scary movies doesn’t mean that I want to live them out in reality. Besides, this life is scary enough as it is. I don’t need a knife wielding maniac or any sort of poltergeist chasing me in my high heels and short-shorts. I got enough going on. Seriously. If someone were to show up at this moment and say “I’m here to scare the hooey out of you,” I’d probably just give them my “mom look.” You know, the one that communicates “Are you flipping kidding me? Don’t waste my time.” I’m just that tired.

But since that probably won’t happen anytime soon (well, I DO live in Aurora… there’s some crazy things that happen here) I think I’m safe for now. And with that, I’m off to bed. I’ll pull the covers up high so the monsters won’t eat my head first or so I won’t see that scary clown from Poltergeist crawling out from underneath the bed to get me.

 

Thank you for this word, Sue Kreft. She is an amazingly wonderful woman who was the director at Ben’s school when he was a wee lad. Sue is INCREDIBLE. I’ve opened up to her about my fears and concerns and she never fails to come through as my cheerleader. She encourages. She loves. She accepts. She prays. Unconditionally. For whatever reason she is someone I trust with all my heart, and trust is something I am incredibly guarded about giving. So, thank you, Sue. Thank you for caring for my son. And for me. I love you.

Lightning

In 2004, I was taking a small break from the hospital to run home and pick up some things. I had been living at the hospital with my sick toddler and newborn for several weeks and needed to go get a new cycle of clothes. Heck, who am I kidding? I simply needed a break from the machines and needles and children screaming in pain. I would have used any excuse to make a break for it because my heart was at capacity. My mom came to relieve me for a couple of hours so I could get some fresh air.

On the 20 minute drive to Dublin from downtown, the clouds moved in. I felt comforted. A good rain would be cleansing for me. As the sky grew blacker I let my heart do the same. I screamed at other cars as they passed me. I cursed. I let my anger loose. And as my mood grew more wrathful, so did the clouds. I pulled into the driveway just as the clouds could hold no more. I got doused in a chilling downpour in the 15 steps from the car to the front door. Admittedly, I didn’t make a run for it, I kinda wanted to get soaked. I was hoping it would be refreshing. It wasn’t.

Walking into the house after such a long sojourn at the hospital, I was overcome with the eerie silence. It felt dead inside. And it seemed like I had been gone for ages. I wondered why the housekeepers hadn’t draped everything in white sheets? Oh, wait. We had no staff. And we hadn’t been on vacation. I grew angrier still. My house was a voided shell. The baby swing sat empty. The toys were scattered as if abandoned in the middle of play. As I walked through the house, it was clear that the church had sent some kind women over to clear out the refrigerator and dust away the obvious. My heart warmed a little bit. Then I headed to my bed, turned on the tv and pulled the covers up high. I just wanted to do something that I had control over. MY remote. MY blanket. MY bed.

The storm outside raged on, pelting the side of the house with its fury. I think I must have been smirking at it… my mind saying something like “Hahaha! You can’t get to me in here! I’m safe from you. You can’t hurt me.” Then the crash came. It shook the foundation. I heard the crack of a tree. I felt the vibration in my head and the rattle of my teeth. Then that metallic taste that overcomes your mouth – the one that is usually reserved for life altering moments: the avoidance of ramming into the back of the car, the news that a loved one has died, hearing the words “Your son has cancer….” I knew I’d been too close to the source of the strike. But while I was technically still safe, my beloved television was not. It was dead.

After a few minutes of stomping my feet and cursing that my “ME-time” had been destroyed by an outside force, I had to pull myself together and get on with it. I picked up some fresh clothes, packed some new toys for Ben, restocked my toiletries, and went back to the hospital. I tried to run away, albeit for just a brief moment, but that dream had been dashed by the actions of the storm. And, ultimately, even though I didn’t want to be in my current situation, I had no choice. I had two little people who needed me desperately. I was so very tired. But looking back on it all and knowing now that I survived it all – that we’ve all survived – we’re better for that storm.

I try to be prepared for whatever weather is coming my way but my internal meteorologist often makes the wrong prediction. It is inevitable that something will come swooping into your life and make a big mess. And it’s okay to stomp your feet and get mad and even curse, but it’s all in how you pick up the pieces and salvage what’s left that makes you better. Stronger. And able to rebuild.

 

Gina Blauhorn Jones gave me today’s word. She knows all too well what a lightning strike can do to your life since she’s survived a daughter having AML and going through a bone marrow transplant. While Gina and I have never had the time to sit down over lunch and share our lives with each other, being a part of this “club” that no one wants to belong to has bonded us forever. I hate our situation but it has certainly given us the opportunity to meet wonderful people. To learn. To grow. And find the courage through each other to pick up the pieces and rebuild after such a destructive strike. Love to you and your family, Gina. <3