welcome to the next year of my life

today is monday january 16th, and this is my first written dispatch from jail.  it feels strange to write with paper and these little golf-sized pencils we get (no pens allowed) - it feels a bit like high school all over again.   it also feels weird to write about what i've been doing the last few days; it's so mundane that i wonder how it can possibly be interesting.  but one of the main ideas behind these dispatches is to share this experience.  which is what it is.  so here goes!

lots has happened since i got to unit 2F last friday, but for today i want to tell you what happened before i got here.

first of all, my sentencing hearing was AMAZING!  i've had a lot of interesting experiences in court, but that was definitely one i'll never forget.  i'd been stressing a lot about my statement to the court - a combination of the regular writing and public speaking nervousness, some extra last minute lawyer-induced worries, and of course that nagging voice in my head that kept asking if i would be totally fucking myself over by saying this stuff to my sentencing judge.  but i'm glad i did!  there is something very liberating about giving people in power a piece of your mind - i highly recommend it.  

i definitely would have been a lot more nervous without all the folks who came out to support and cheer me on (literally!).  so thank you all again.  hearing all the noise from the video room was the greatest thing - i bet that's never happened before at 2201 Finch!  and you made our dear crown Jason Miller SO ANGRY; it still warms my heart to think of it.

anyway, i digress into happy memories.  back to the story!

after being cuffed and led out of the court room, i was taken to the back where i emptied my pockets and removed my belt, shoelaces and the cord from my hoodie.  then, the inevitable strip-search.  two female court officers (remember: male cops are not allowed to strip search women) took my clothes from me one item at a time to see if i was stashing anything in there.  i was only partially naked at any given time.  but still, the whole thing is awkward for all involved.  especially the squatting.  not once, not twice, but THREE times.  well, i remember when the thought of being strip searched was horrifying. . .now it's just routine.  how quickly these little indignities get normalized. . .

the cells at Finch court, like those in court houses and cop shops everywhere, are freezing cold.   if you've ever been in one you know the drill: you pace, you try to sleep in every position you can think of, you stare into space.  you eat the infamous cheese (or tuna) on white bun sandwich and orange Tang lunch.  you wait and wait and wait.  

i waited until late afternoon for the wagon.  when it came i had a fleeting panicked thought: how's the weather?  what if we get in an accident and i'm handcuffed in a steel box that's locked from the outside?  [argh. stop that.]  what if the wagon goes off a bridge/ sinks in the lake/ lights on fire?  [ARGH. STOP THAT.] the wagon was cold but the drive thankfully uneventful.  the woman in my section was under the impression that Vanier would be just like court cells, so it was nice to be able to tell her a bit about the place - that there would be food and beds and things to do (sort of), and that it wouldn't be freezing cold.

processing at the jail consisted of a pat-down search, a meal, an intake ("are you suicidal? date of birth? next of kin?", height, mugshot, fingerprints), a visit to the nurse (health questionnaire, vitals, diet request, TB test injection), and a quick stint in a cell with a phone, which was a nice surprise.  and then, another strip search.  because why not, really? "strip.  arms above your head.  open your mouth.  bend over, shake out your hair.  turn around.  show me the soles of your feet.  spread your legs.  bend over, touch your toes.  now put these on."  (yes! the comfy green jogging suit!)

and then i was being marched off with a bunch of new inmates to Unit 2.  "no talking in the halls. hey! NO TALKING!  keep to the right.  okay stop.  stand here.  no, HERE.  NO TALKING."  well, shit.  welcome to the next year of my life.