Monthly Archives: April 2013

Once upon a time…

It’s only 10:30 in the morning and I`ve been to the post office twice already. I went to send Jeremy some mail, early before I ran my errands, and checked my p.o. box even though I knew it was too early for anything to be there. I ran my errands, went back to the post office to check again and still nothing. I stood around looking like a stalker for about 20 minutes, checking my box what seemed like every 30 seconds, then I told myself to go home. I`ll check again, of course, but I came home so that the post office employees didn`t think I was plotting something. Letters are the most important form of communication right now. They are my only real direct contact with my husband on a daily, and weekly basis. Sure, he will call me next week for our one phone call a month, but I live for the mail right now. It got me thinking back to when this all started. What is this? This amazing, crazy, life changing love. It reminds me of a time when all we had were letters to get to know each other and communicate. We started in letters and here is how it went for anyone that is curious.

I tell some people that I knew Jeremy before prison just to ease their anxiety about my being married to a prisoner, but the raw truth is that I started writing to Jeremy after he got to prison, and I never knew him on the streets. A lot of people wonder how this happened, and assume I sought out some prisoner writing service, but that isn`t what happened.

When I was 13, I started becoming strangely interested in true crime. Let me first say that I do not condone crime or anything of that nature. I simply embrace the bizarre that life has to offer, and I`m generally interested in how people work, why people act the way they do, etc. I guess you could say that I am fully aware of the dark side of life and I`m not afraid to get close to it. I was always interested in subjects that may be considered “taboo” or “weird” and it doesn’t bother me to admit that because it is who I am. So, when I was 13, I started to write a few people in prison, and when I was 15 I got suspended from school for having true crime articles on my binder. Kids like the “strange”, and there were other students doing way worse things than having a few newspaper clippings on their binder, so I quit regular school and enrolled myself in independent studies at 15 . This meant being at home a lot, teaching myself, and ultimately left me with a lot of time on my hands. So what did I do? I wrote more people, got Jeremy’s address from a friend I had online, and I wrote him. Didn`t really expect a response, and to be perfectly honest I did not know who Jeremy was, what his crime was, or really anything about him. My friend said he was nice and I should write him. Done!

Well, when I got a response to my initial letter, I was definitely let down, because he gave me a hard time about writing him, asking me questions like “Do your parents know you’re writing to people in prison?”, “Don`t you have any real friends?”, and “You know that some people in prison are manipulative?”. Ugh. I was annoyed at his seemingly parental like inquisition. I was like, “Screw that guy”, and I didn`t write back immediately. Sometime later I decided to reply and tell him it was okay that I wrote him because my mom didn`t care, and after that first initial exchange he started to relax and we started to write regularly about our likes, dislikes, music, interests, etc.

I was a bit of a wild child at the time and definitely not looking for a relationship. I was 16, confused, and just trying to survive teenage angst. He never crossed the line, and was always super respectful of both my age, and just me in general. We were strictly friends, he gave me solid life advice, and I`m sure I entertained him with my ridiculous ideas about pretty much everything. We wrote on and off, sometimes not exchanging a letter for months, and then it happened. I found myself obsessively waiting for his mail, quite like I am now, sometime shortly before I turned 18. We started writing more frequently, sending several letters per week, making the conversation impossible to keep up with. We both knew what was happening, but we vowed to be single forever and we actually created a little club, where the only two members were him and I, called “The Lonely Hearts Singles Club”. Cheesy? Absolutely. This was a cute and  roundabout way of telling each other that we would be linked for life. He knew it long before I did.

After a lot of mail, and a couple of very expensive 15 minute phone calls, he wrote me a letter that changed my life. I don`t have this letter anymore, and I`ll explain why in another blog, but this was the letter where he dropped all defenses and told me he was in love with me, that he wanted to be with me, and that he truly could not imagine his life without me. I must have read that letter a thousand times, wearing the paper out from taking it out of the envelope over and over again. I knew when I read those words, that I was in trouble, and I immediately wrote back and confessed the same. We were no longer singles with lonely hearts, but two people who were about to embark on a crazy life journey together.

After I turned 18, Jeremy sent me a visiting application and I was approved in March of 2003. My mom drove me out to see him and my life has not been the same since. The End. Of this post that is 🙂

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Do Not Disturb

While I was at work today, I started to think about how my marriage has absolutely no privacy at this point in time. That fact sort of trips me out to think about. Sure, I fell in love with Jeremy through a series of letters which were always scanned by the mail room, but we had transitioned into our weekly visits at Lovelock where we actually could talk privately in person. Not that we have anything to talk about that would be considered suspicious or anything of that nature, but it was nice to have a small slice of normalcy where we could actually have a conversation that was between Jeremy and Desiree, and not Jeremy, Desiree, and whomever was monitoring our calls or reading our letters. 

Now that our contact visits have been ripped away from us for really no reason at all, besides there being some lying correctional officers with sticks up their asses, we are back where we started. Mail is scanned, and maybe even read all the way through, phone calls are monitored, but really how much can we say in 15 minutes, once a month, anyway? I use our ONE phone call a month for 15 minutes for getting Jeremy important, time sensitive information or letting him know what is going on. I`ve mastered the art of talking fast and maximizing our limited real time contact. Then we have our letters, which are our lifeline at this point.

Mail can take 2-3 days each way, so by the time he gets a letter from me, I`m already onto a whole new set of ideas and thoughts and it is lonely not getting an instant response to something that has made me happy or sad. I`m challenging myself to write at least 5 days a week because Jeremy really does write nearly every single day that we are separated like this. This constant writing allows me to feel connected to my husband when the rest of our life has been disconnected in a really huge way. I feel really lucky to have someone who writes letters, and not just letters, but conversations. He writes the conversations that we are missing. He responds to every little trivial remark in my letters, my questions, he provides support through his words, and he really does reinvigorate me with pen and paper. I feel like I owe him that same commitment, especially considering the circumstances right now, so every day I come home and I pull up a word document and type the day’s events, respond to his words, or just tell him that I love him a million and one times.

 That was a tangent. Originally I was writing about the lack of privacy. So, we have established that all mail and phone calls are monitored so there is little to no privacy there, and this last visit with Jeremy at the maximum prison, we were put in a room with no standard prison telephone, but a speaker box(that was broken, mind you) so we had to talk loudly to be able to hear each other through the glass, often times having to repeat ourselves. I was definitely frustrated not being able to talk about things that were on my mind because of the lack of privacy. I could hear people outside of our visiting booth and I knew they could probably hear me. I don`t mind the fact that people could hear me talking, but it is another thing altogether to want to tell your husband something you don`t want the rest of the visitors to hear. So I found  myself biting my tongue, or otherwise not mentioning what I really wanted to talk about because of the way visiting was set up. His parents visited with me and were nice enough to give Jeremy and I a couple of hours to visit alone but the broken speaker, glass between us, and the constant distraction of other visitors outside of our booth made it difficult to enjoy.

Right now I feel like the only privacy I have with my husband is inside my head and I keep reminding myself that nothing is forever, and this will pass, but in the meantime I have so many built up thoughts and feelings I wish I could express right now. Not in a letter that is read, not in a phone call that is recorded, but in person like a regular couple would be able to do. I hope to get back my privacy with my husband at some point, but until then, there is wine, friends, and writing this blog. While this is all VERY frustrating, I feel like coming back to the start allows us to really evaluate our life together and most definitely makes me realize just how good we had it. We have been here before and survived, and we can do it again.

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Where comfort ends and strength begins

Recently while I was doing my Jillian Michael’s Yoga Meltdown DVD, I took notice of something she said and it has really pushed me through the last couple of days leading up to my visit with Jeremy yesterday, and it is still pushing me forward. These five words have allowed me to go into an anxiety inducing situation and come out feeling okay. Tired, stressed, intense, but in control and feeling like I can carry on. Jillian said, in regards to a particular move on the DVD, “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable”. I didn`t realize at the time that this was pretty much one of my overall themes. My life with Jeremy has been a series of shaken nerves, followed by peace, then more awkward, and finally calm. Lather, rinse, repeat. This isn`t an entirely negative reality, though, because I feel like pushing myself beyond my comfort zone is important to grow, to become stronger, and ultimately to win. Win at what? Win at my life. I`m not trying to compete for a prize, or claim I`m the best at anything, but I`m striving to win at MY life, and more important, my life with Jeremy. Very important business here 🙂

The ride out to the prison from the hotel seemed like it lasted forever, and I found my palms getting unreasonably sweaty, and my thoughts scattered to the wind. I was nervous but did my best not to portray any weakness in front of others because that just isn’t the way I roll. I continued to tell myself “get comfortable with being uncomfortable”, in my head. I`m buckled in for this ride with Jeremy until the wheels fall off. That is what we tell each other to reassure one another that we are in it for the long haul. “Until the wheels fall off, baby”, and it’s the truest statement that I can make to my husband. I didn’t used to be the type of person that kept my promises, or “my word”, or even my thoughts. I was flighty, unsure, and definitely not one to make a  commitment and stick with it, but the last few years with Jeremy have shaped me into a promise keeping, truthful, and enduring individual.

So, while it is a taxing journey to be on, I am embracing the uncomfortable and trying my best to keep my head while I become accustomed to working through the difficult in life with my husband.

Until the wheels fall off.

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Hey mom: I`m in love!

I don`t remember exactly when or how I told my mom I was “dating” someone in prison, that I was in love with this person, and that I desperately needed her help getting out to see him some 600 miles away, but she was always supportive. Some people may think my mom is crazy, and maybe she is, but she has always, always, always supported my love for Jeremy and in that department she has really excelled as not only an understanding mother, but as an understanding human being. Over the years my mom has gotten to know Jeremy well over letters, phone calls, and a few visits. She has told me that she considers him her son. That is how amazing and wonderful of a person my Jeremy is.

Just because you’re caught up in a bad situation, and have made some mistakes doesn’t mean you’re a bad person not worthy of an actual life and love. I imagine that when people learn my husband is in prison they think I must be crazy, stupid, or otherwise naive to my own lifestyle, and that I must not really know the man I love. I will say that there ARE manipulative people in prison, but there are manipulative people down at your local 7-11 as well. The location or circumstance shouldn`t dictate how you view a person without getting to know them. I saw through the prison stamp on my letters from Jeremy and the barbed wire around the place I was entering. What I found was one of the best people I have ever met in my entire life and will probably ever have the pleasure of knowing.

Not all inmates are monsters, just like all free people aren’t always the best examples of upstanding citizens, and I sincerely feel like some of the people we have standing beside us on the streets are far more deserving of prison time than some of the inmates I have had the chance to get to know through Jeremy. It’s like society thinks that one mistake makes  you this terrible person that can never again function with other people. I am here to tell you, firsthand, that is the farthest thing from the truth. These inmates are your brothers, sons, husbands, boyfriends, and these inmates might just even be the reflection when you look in the mirror. I often wonder how people can pass such judgment as if they lead the most pristine lives, as if they aren’t one crazy incident away from a prison cell. These inmates are human beings; my husband is a human being.

I get to experience, vicariously through my husband, how the state of Nevada treats their inmates, and quite frankly it isn`t something I would wish on anyone. Like I said back in my first post, I`ve heard and read that Nevada is one of the worst states to be incarcerated in. The level of corruption that exists both on the tier, behind those walls, and at the central office of the NDOC, where life changing decisions are made, is astounding. I won’t say that ALL correctional officers and officials are bad because I have met my fair share of decent ones, and ones that I might even be friends with in another life, but some of these people I wouldn`t trust to bag my purchases at the local Wal-mart. Some of these officers are 1. Not too bright, and 2. Don`t have a professional or ethical bone in their body. Yet, the state of Nevada is giving these people a gun, a badge, and free reign to do what they think is “fair” in regards to the inmates. Who is supervising the bad apples while they supervise the “bad apples”?

It’s pretty sick if you really think of it. I imagine how frustrated my husband becomes with the officers yet has to keep it together because these people, who can barely manage to spell properly on a report they have falsified, will make his life hell if they want to. There is no one watching these “correctional” officers, and I dare say that some of them are worse than some of the inmates. If you’ve kept up with my blog you know that my husband is currently at a maximum security prison because a correctional officer that does not like him has falsified her report about an attack on my husband, and has made him the instigating party simply because she wants to. Even if you’re innocent, you’re guilty because you might just rub one of these gun slinging idiots the wrong way and there goes any small amount of freedom you may have. I will say that I`m mad as hell right there with my husband, but keeping a level head and working through this mess the legal way in order to ensure that my husband’s name is cleared, and that this individual is held accountable. Very frustrating, and mentally taxing when I think about it all.

I got sidetracked on a mini rant about the inept nature of some of Nevada’s finest. Back to my original, derailed train of thought: My husband is a good person, no, a GREAT person, who happened to be at the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong people, and here we are. There are some people who will think that Jeremy is getting what he “deserves” and they can certainly think that, and I pray that these people never find themselves in a situation where everything aligns for the worst. I`m sure a lot of people I know have looked Jeremy up online but I haven’t had any of my friends drop off on me as of yet. People closest to me, who have gotten to communicate with Jeremy, are blown away by his good nature and often ask me “How is he in prison?”.  If you believe everything you read online or everything the media tells you: I feel sorry for you and you will never know the truth about anything in life. Not everything is as it seems and I`ll talk more about that in another blog. But for now, take a good look at  yourself, and realize that you are no different than some these inmates .

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I just wanna be OK a.k.a I`m listening to Ingrid Michaelson

“Open me up and you will see
I’m a gallery of broken hearts
I’m beyond repair, let me be
And give me back my broken parts”

Not posting for a couple of days was necessary; work has been insanely stressful. That combined with everything happening in my personal life has sort of sent me over the edge. I want to say, first and foremost, that I am not a person that typically cries. I`m not unemotional, but this life out here in Nevada has really made me a rock of a person. I typically cope with sleep, exercise, music, or food. I`ll admit I can be an emotional eater. Sometimes 🙂

That being said, I guess I want to write about my feelings right now. “Oh no. Talking about feelings”. Oh hush. Like I said, I`m typically put together, but I feel this crack in my foundation right now and I think it is definitely because I`m missing a very large part of my daily life: Jeremy. He really is my therapy, and I`m therapy to pretty much the rest of my world, so you can see how this would put a kink in my plans to have a healthy, happy, and stable life. When you talk to someone every single day, recap the day’s madness, complain to your heart’s content, and generally are able to release pent up negative energy, and then that gets ripped away…it leaves you frazzled, and disorientated.

I will be the first to say that I took this outlet for granted, having him there for me every day on the phone. I`m sort of pissed off at myself now because we are hundreds of miles apart, and I haven’t heard from him in nearly two weeks, neither by phone or letters, and I am now realizing that he is the glue that holds me together.

So back to this crack in my foundation. I am admittedly, a lifelong sufferer of depression, anxiety, and general nuttiness. Jeremy has definitely calmed this part of me; he has changed the way I see myself, and the way I see the world. So what am I doing now? Internalizing. It isn`t difficult when everyone seems to want to talk about themselves, and not ask how I’m doing. This is my role, though, and always has been. I`m the caretaker, and people come to me with their problems. I actually don`t mind that at all, but my issue is that now I need people to be there for me and it is rare to find people who actually want to care about others above their own problems or at least give a fair balance. I do have a few amazing people in my life who have really stepped up in the friendship department and I cannot thank them enough. They have been there with words of comfort, jokes, advice, and generally just being there.  I could not have made it the last few months of crazy without them.

Today at work, I found myself in my manager’s office talking about a fax I was sending one minute, and crying the next minute. I think this display of emotion shocked her, as she quickly closed her office door, and took the time to sit down and talk to me and even gave me a hug. Weird. My manager has an understanding of my life, though, especially because one of her family members has been in and out of prison for years. “It’s tough” is what I kept repeating, because I wasn`t sure what else to say. I`m not comfortable displaying lots of raw emotion, especially at work, but it just happened. I realized that I was falling apart quickly and needed to get tough again. Unlike others who get depressed and don`t know what the fix is, I know how to “fix” myself. I know I couldn`t exercise today, or bother with eating healthy. I knew I needed fries and a long nap(which is probably why I`m up now).

So yes, it is “tough”. I`m not asking anyone to feel sorry for me, and I generally don`t talk about how sad it makes me to be so in love with someone, and be forced to be apart from them. I don`t talk about that side of my emotions because I like to remain hopeful, and strong in order to help my husband, and help myself.

Today was not a bad day, but it was a “tough” day. After a long day of emotional instability, I came home to an empty mailbox, and no phone call. I’d like to say that I`ve steeled myself to every heartache that comes along with being the wife of someone incarcerated, but that wouldn`t be true. I miss my husband. I miss what we have, what we had, what could be, what never was, and what is to come.

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My Beginning

I just finished up some yoga. Yoga(Jillian Michael’s style, mind you) was the perfect way to tell the stress to get lost. Exercise pretty much keeps my emotions in check these days. All those endorphins are actually doing their job. I find it hard to have emotional breakdowns about the lack of Jeremy in my life because I keep myself moving, productive, and awake to life as opposed to staying in bed eating pizza and crying(which deep down somewhere I think I really want to do sometimes).

During yoga, in between sweating and cursing at Jillian, I was thinking about the beginning that I`m going to have to go back to soon. My beginning was the place where Jeremy and I physically came together back in 2003. If you want to argue what my actual beginning was, you could say it was my birth, or my childhood, or my first kiss, but I like to say that my beginning was Jeremy. Though I remember snippets of my life before him, I have an almost photographic like memory of him, our conversations, his face, us. So what is this beginning? More important, where is this beginning?

My beginning is Ely State Prison in Ely, Nevada. I haven’t been there in over 5 years but I`m about to make my journey there once again to be with Jeremy because he has been transferred. Why has he been transferred? Read the back story in earlier blog entries. I find myself about 350 miles away from my husband and anxious about going back to Ely, but it is necessary. People who don`t know about prisons don`t understand the vast difference between maximum and medium security facilities. It’s going to be an adjustment from what I have gotten comfortable with.

Jeremy and I had written for years before I could actually visit. One month after my 18th birthday I found myself in the waiting room of this maximum security prison in a part of Nevada I had never even heard of. There were so many thoughts rushing through my head before that first visit, where I was about to meet a man I had only ever written to and had a few 15 minute phone conversations with. I remember admitting to the gatehouse guard that I was nervous and I felt really dumb for saying that. At that time, I had no experience with prisons or law enforcement. At that time, I thought law enforcement was there to help, to save, and to be just. What a far, far, departure from the truth.

Anyway, back to my beginning. My beginning is a place as you now know. This is the place where my life was turned upside down and was changed in a way that it would never be the same again. Meeting Jeremy has been the greatest joy of my life and I wouldn`t trade my impulsive nature for anything because it led me to my perfect match. On the flip-side, this beginning has been the greatest struggle of my life, but a struggle is a challenge and I have always been up for this particular challenge.

So, years later, I find myself on the precipice of my beginning again, another journey to be had. I feel a strange sense of positive about returning to my beginning, and I feel that this return will enable greater and more amazing experiences to happen in my life with Jeremy.
The roots of my love were planted in a maximum security prison visiting room.

I have the geographical coordinates to my beginning with me at all times.

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Waiting

Waiting, waiting, waiting. What do I do with all that waiting? What do I wait for? I wait for the mail, and I sincerely think the mailman must think I`m a stalker. I wait for phone calls that sometimes happen, and sometimes don`t. I wait to mail letters. There have been times I`ve wanted to drive to the post office at midnight and mail my letters to my husband. I wait the days, weeks, and sometimes months until I can visit. I was used to waiting exactly 5-6 days between visits up until three months ago when my world was, once again, shaken out of place. Now I wait about a month between visits. When I get to visiting, I wait some more to get processed, to get patted down, and then I wait for the gates to open. More waiting. I wait for my husband to get into the visiting area, which sometimes takes ten minutes and other times thirty minutes. Ultimately I`m waiting for my husband to come home to me.

I realize that I spend a lot of time waiting. Image