Author Archives: Desiree

About Desiree

Living my truth, one post at a time.

When prison meets pizza

There used to be this Pizza place in Ely, Nevada named “My Papa’s Pizza” and I used to order from them frequently when I was in town visiting Jeremy back in the mid 2000s (especially when I was snowed in and stuck in town for days). They have since closed, but I remember that they would drop my pizza off at the front desk and the front desk agent, who was very familiar with my presence around the hotel(which is now called The Prospector, but back then was a Holiday Inn), would bring the pizza to my room. I remembered this little piece of personal pizza history randomly the other day while I was wondering if I would ever write another blog post again. After I started to think about the pizza place and the former Holiday Inn, now Prospector hotel, a flood of memories surrounding those earlier years of visiting started to come rushing in. Mostly I remembered that time in my life, that time in my adventure with Jeremy, at this point in my life, because I remember people being kind to me. Not a “fake smile” sort of kind, but a genuine appreciation for my story and what I was there for.

You see, everyone at the hotel knew who I was and who I was in town to see. Word tends to get around and to this day, I`m not entirely sure how. My best guess is that someone at the prison was in contact with someone at the hotel, or something along those lines. Anyway, people knew me and people knew who Jeremy was and they really were just kind to me, not because they had anything to gain but because sometimes life hands us a wild hand of cards and we play the fuck out of that hand even though we know the experience isn`t going to be the best and we might not come out ahead in the early stages of the game, or ever.

I knew the people at the old Holiday Inn by name, they would take me to and from the small Ely airport, when once upon a time, Scenic Airlines used to fly from North Las Vegas to Ely (it has since ceased this route and I find I strange and sort of cosmic that is ceased around the time I no longer needed those flights).They would shuttle me around to and from the airport and to and from the prison, until one day they just started to let me take “the Caddy”(the company Cadillac) on my own. They even left the keys under the driver’s side mat a few times and parked it at the airport so that when I arrived I could just drive myself to the hotel. I had become, strangely, some part of the Holiday Inn and I have a fondness for the building, even to this day.

There used to be a manager there named Dan and I remember him turning to me once while we were stopped at a red light on the way to Ely State Prison and he asked me if anyone had given me a hard time about who I was visiting out at the prison. I said no, and I wasn’t being entirely dishonest because no one ever SAID anything to me, but I did have one front desk clerk, at the beginning, give me the side eye about my adventures in Ely. Dan told me that if anyone ever said anything to me that I should let him know immediately because he wasn’t going to let anyone give me shit about my life choices, that is wasn’t their business, and that although life is sometimes crazy, that he believed in the goodness of people deep down, that he believed people made mistakes and that ultimately he believed in second chances and forgiveness.

That conversation has stuck with me all these years later, along with the memory of getting my grilled cheese and mashed potatoes (I really do love some weird food combinations) comped on a regular basis by Patrick at the hotel. Those memories stick with me because those people were so kind to me and they didn`t have to be. They could follow the small town rule of casting me out as a freak, or an outsider. They could eyeroll me so hard that I felt their contempt and ultimately they could have said some pretty nasty things to me, like people online have said to me, but they didn`t. They never did. They let their kindness and their willingness to listen and try to understand come first and I am so grateful for that.

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Denied

Jeremy’s request for re-sentencing has been denied at this state level, which was to be expected but still makes for a disappointing sting. Although I’m sure we are in for more denials before we get any relief, I knew this first one was going to be extra upsetting for me. It’s also a bit anxiety inducing because at each level there will be sensationalized news articles released, spewing not facts about the case, but hearsay along with lies and the most inflammatory statements to get people angry.

The attorney representing the state called Jeremy’s case, and I quote, “the most heinous crime in history”*. I’m a little concerned how much history this individual knows, but that’s beside the point. The point is that the state is going to say anything, print anything, and throw anything at this case that they think will make us give up because that is their jobs. Their jobs aren’t rooted in impartiality or truth or having a soul. Their job is to win at any cost, even if it means lying about the facts of the case, manipulating details, omitting information, and making outrageous claims like the one the DA made to get it in the papers. I take back all my misplaced opinions about people who I’ve read negative things about in the media in the past. I understand now.

This is the appeals process, y’all. I’ve never personally been part of it until now, but I can tell my sensitive nature needs get ready for rejections and harsh words and it needs to learn how to move past it all. The truth? Yes, I want Jeremy to have a chance at parole someday. I know that angers some people, those who believe he doesn’t deserve a chance, those who believe no one deserves a second chance at life. I wonder if they also think this crime is the most heinous in history. I wonder if they take everything at face value and don’t bother to really get to know what’s going on.

The article about the denial that the LVRJ printed also includes inflammatory wording and insinuation of racism, which makes me laugh. It makes me laugh because one of the hate messages I received said I must not care about the victim because she was black. While it is ridiculously amusing now, when I read it and when I read this article, I could feel anger bubbling beneath the surface. It’s angering because race is not an issue here. We are two of the least racist people, so for the judge to make the comments about race and for the paper to print that, well that just goes to show they are relying on information that is not true. Maybe not even relying on it but counting on information that is not true to upset the public.

Jeremy’s best friend in prison is a man named Andre, an African American who sports a fro and at one time, before he knew Jeremy, wanted to murder him because he thought what the papers printed about him was true and that he was a monster. Each and every time someone wants to murder my husband because of what they think they know (and this has happened a lot, believe me) and then get to know him, they usually become friends. Whites, Blacks, Mexicans, Asians. My husband runs with them all, and treats everyone with respect, so for someone to claim racism makes me angry laugh, if that’s a thing. Just as I was typing the last part of this post, Jeremy called me before going out to yard and his friend Rasta, who is also African American, took the phone from him to say hi to me really quick. So, racism is not an issue here and it is that type of bullshit that gets printed in the papers. All I`m saying is, don`t believe everything you read. Not about my husband, not about his case, not about anything.

So, a denial. An expected one, but one that sucks nonetheless. From here the case is appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court, which I doubt will provide any relief either. After that? The case will move into the Federal District Court and from there the Ninth Circuit Court. It’s a waiting game now.

For those of you who are wondering what the argument is, or legal basis is for the appeal (because I know some guys Jeremy knows in prison have been wanting to file similar appeals when we get a favorable ruling), the issue is the age. Juveniles (which currently means under 18 in Nevada), are not sentenced to death or life without parole because of fairly recent rulings. The problem is that a line has been drawn at 18, but does one miraculously change into a full-fledged adult with a fully formed brain on their 18th birthday? What is the difference between 17 years 11 months and 18 years 1 month? Scientifically speaking, there is no difference. In fact, science says that the brain is not fully formed until the mid-twenties. There are raise the age campaigns going up across the nation, challenging the age 18 cut off. Why can’t people drink until their 21, which is when they are considered an adult, but they can be sentenced to life without parole at 18?

Some folks will argue that age does not matter and no matter what age you are, you deserve every harshness that comes your way if you commit a crime. For those folks: I really, really hope that you never get into any shit where you think the mercy of the system might be on your side.

I do want to touch on the fact that while I believe in second chances, I am not pro let serial killers, or those who continuously have severe behavioral problems, out without serious consideration and proof that they have rehabilitated. There are some people who just cannot stop committing crimes. So, yes, I do believe in punishment, but I also believe in the ability to change, in the age issue we are raising, and in second chances. Again, people will roll their eyes and say something along the lines of “Well there is no second chances for the victims of crimes”. You cannot get through to everyone and each person will have an opinion on justice and forgiveness of their own.

This feels like such a heavy informational post, which usually isn’t my jam, but I wanted to provide an update for those who are curious about the case and what we are doing, what is happening. If you’re here just to leave angry comments (which I`ve disabled because nobody has time for that) or be angry in general, there is nothing for you here. Yes, apparently, I am married to a man who committed the most heinous crime in history and this is our story.

*8/6/2018 I wanted to add here that I recently went back to the LVRJ article and it appears as though they have altered the quote by the DA to now read “…one of the most infamous and heinous crimes in history…”, which I find pretty funny because it just illustrates how ridiculous the media is. Also, still not even close there, y’all. Carry on.


“I hope you rot in hell!”

Whoa, what? Yes, the ol’ “rot in hell” and “I hope you die” phrases of heartfelt wisdom. Words that touch many, many levels of the human soul. Words that move the universe forward and provide hope for all. Yes, that is sarcasm if you did not catch it.

You guessed it, I’m addressing hate mail, which is sort of baffling to be honest. I fully understand and realize that I am married to a somewhat “public figure”, but the whole notion of hate mail is very new to me. It’s not fun and that is this simplest way I can describe it. I could seriously never be a celebrity because I would fucking cry every single day. I’m not special, though, every article I read, about pretty much anyone, contains an infinite number of hateful, negative, and otherwise useless comments that do not help the human race or social justice at all. The words are just a bunch of choice letters strung together to create really shitty, inarticulate comments that are rooted in misinformation and inflammatory thinking.

To the above statement, people will shout “You’re full of shit!! I read it in the paper!! He confessed!! You are evil and sick. Rot in hell! Die Die Die!!!”. It’s the same circle over and over again and unless you truly understand what is *actually* happening, you cannot be reasoned with. People love media headlines, they LOVE them,  and they love to believe that the newspapers and the police and law have their best interest at heart. Or do they? Take a pause from wishing me a safe passage to hell because you know me so well and think for a second. You couldn’t even make it that second, could you? I heard this quote the other day on a podcast that I listen to and it was something to the effect of “People don’t want to know the back story because the back story challenges what they think they know about something”. It’s true. People would rather live in a space of what they think they know and believe than have any type of back story or different narrative than what they’ve been spoon fed by the media.

I’ve also had people ask why I feel my husband deserves freedom and that’s a really hard question because, again, if you have no idea what is going on, you will not be convinced by any counter that I have. I suggest, first reading more than one blog entry and actually educating yourself on more than what you’ve briefly read on the case. I would also point out that just because there could possibly, maybe be a re-sentencing hearing, that does not mean anyone is getting out of prison. Third, consider for a brief, very brief moment, even briefer than it took you to deem me worthy of hellfire, that there were two people at the scene of the crime and only one convicted and the other goes free without being charged as an accessory.

I used to think to myself, “What right do I have to defend this mess?” I used to think it wasn’t my mess to defend and then I started to think, “Why should I have to defend myself to people who have no idea what they are talking about?” Now I’ve made peace somewhere in between questioning my right to defend my life and myself, and trying to let go a little bit more. I realize that some folks cannot be reasoned with, so why am I going to spend my time responding to messages of damnation and crude thought process? There is literally no winning.

This post strays a bit from my creative process of crafting my blog entries because the hate mail I’ve gotten had such a visceral impact on my thought process, trying to understand how people who have no idea who I am as an individual could say such ugly things to me, that I just wanted to speak honestly about my thoughts.

If you’d like to check out a post that my husband did about the hate mail, you’re more than welcome to. I can see the angry clicking already. Angry click here.


Evidentiary Hearing v 1.0

How do you process the start of a journey that is going to decide your other half’s fate and ultimately yours? If you’re me, you apparently eat way too much ice cream, do not sleep nearly enough to function, and you cry a little, but not too much. That is how I am currently processing the aftermath of attending my first ever evidentiary hearing. I`m not going to lie: the hearing was terrifying for me (having no experience with this type of situation), anxiety inducing, but an event that I am glad I was there for because I want to support my husband as we weave our way through some back road that cannot be turned around on, so you have to just keep moving forward even though it sucks and you are so lost and you have no idea what is going to happen next. Buckle up and brace yourself for what is around the bend.

*click click click* The camera man is taking photos, thankfully not of me or the immediate family sitting in the courtroom with me, but he is taking photographs of the expert that is testifying. Photograph after photograph after photograph. He is taking photographs of the judge and the lawyers. He is taking photographs of Jeremy. My Jeremy. My stomach knots up the way it did before I got out of the car that morning. It knots up and my hands and pits are sweaty and I can hear my heartbeat in my ears and I`m trying to hear what all is being said, but my heart is drumming in my ears and I keep hearing the *click click* of that fucking camera in front and to the right of me and I want to get up and slap the whole thing out of that man’s hands. I envision myself doing just that, getting up and just slapping that stupid camera out of his hands and onto the floor just so he will stop taking pictures of Jeremy.

I look over at my husband, this man that I had only ever been with behind prison walls. This is our first time seeing each other, in the flesh, outside of a prison visiting room even though we have been married nearly 9 years and have a friendship that spans almost two decades. I look over at him and he is so focused, handsome, scruffy with his glasses on and just looking forward and taking notes,  aware that the photographer is clicker happy. I keep looking at my husband and he happens to look over and we exchange a smirk off camera, a knowing smirk, an understanding one, some secret declaration of “It’s okay. I`m here and you are here and we are here and I love you”. If all that can be said in a smirk, we said it and I was glad for that exchange in my moment of sweaty armpits and desire to slap the camera onto the floor. I wanted to have a  full on Braveheart moment and just slap the camera down and yell “FRRREEEEDOOOMMM!!!!!”. Not the appropriate time for that I guess.

While the clicker happy camera man is taking photo after photo, some “junior reporter person” is shadowing him, and by shadowing him, I mean she is recording footage of the testimony on her phone and moving the phone around like she is at some concert for a band she likes and she is trying to capture all the action. So, clicky McClickerson and mobile device concert capturer are hard at work for the Las Vegas Review Journal. There was also a reporter taking notes, who ended up writing an article which is half “facts” all fucked up, half “that is not even true, did you just make that up?” I am aware of note taker, camera person, professional phone recorder person, the judge, the lawyers, the prosecution, bailiffs, court workers .My eyes do laps around the courtroom, examining expressions while scientific terms flood my ears, just barely audible over my heart that will not calm. Back to Jeremy, back to sweating, back to looking around. This goes on for nearly two hours and I exhaust myself.

After all is said and done, we walk out with no answers because this isn`t a decision that can be made lightly. There is too much to examine, to weigh, to consider. The decision will mostly likely take the judge the entire 60 days to reach and I`ll be holding my breath until then, playing out scenarios about what happens next, what the judge will say, what appeals will be filed after to challenge the “winning” side, how long this will go on for, if my husband will ever have a chance at getting out of prison. This process will most likely continue for longer than I`d like because the system does not go swiftly and it does not go off without a hitch. I spend a lot of my time in a precarious space when it comes to thinking about what is going to happen next. What I do know for certain is that I will be at every court hearing and take every low-key smirk from my husband that I can get. I also know that I will face my anxiety to support the person I love the most in this world and that I believe in second chances.

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Pariah

About a week and a half ago, I was on Facebook and I commented on a post by Damien Echols, a former death row inmate. Damien’s post was about something to do with freedom and the anxiety of being on the outside after so many years in prison. Anyway, I follow him because I like his photography and his posts are mainly about the joy of living on the outside and the hope that comes with being in the world after all that he has been through.

So, this post was one of a few I had randomly commented on. I usually don`t comment on “page posts” because, well, I just don`t, but every once in a while I like to express a thought I have about something or a feeling that I can identify with or even a hope that I share. I believe my comment was about my hope for Jeremy’s eventual freedom and how his post made me feel like there can be a life after prison, especially when you were sentenced to a life sentence when you were just 18. I made no mention of Jeremy’s name or details because really it was just a comment on the expressed emotion, not on the specifics of my life or who I am married to. I don`t know why I commented on it. I guess partly because I just wanted to put my words somewhere and another part of me wanted to connect with others who were maybe open minded and could be supportive and who I could support. I think that is part of being a human being, right?

One woman, in a short comment, shared her story about her son being incarcerated and expressed her own hope. “Okay, off to a good start. Rad.”, I thought to myself. I then put my phone away and went about my daily errands. Shortly after that I noticed the familiar red bubble near the Facebook app that indicates that you have a new notification. I opened up Facebook right away, like the slave to social media that I can be sometimes, and it said that so and so has commented on my comment on the Damien Echols’ post. I thought maybe there was more on my thread about people identifying with me or my feelings or someone sharing their story as well. I got excited, but I was very quickly deflated when I noticed that it was someone who is trying to “out” me and isolate me in the thread by posting a news story about Jeremy and the person asked me if I knew what my husband is in prison for. There was more to the comment, that I honestly cannot even remember now because I got tunnel vision and deleted my original comment and put a stop to the entire witch hunt before it started. I just could not deal with it at that moment. Not right then, not that day. I seriously thought to myself “Fuck! Am I not even allowed to share in a positive post without having someone shit all over me?”

I started to question whether or not I had the right to post without people ganging up on me. I started to become irate because there I was, just trying to connect and someone took time out of their day to cyber stalk me, find an article, and post it in the thread I was in. “Am I a pariah?”, I asked myself. Maybe I am, but then what does that make anyone who is willing to go against the grain in regards to their life choices and open up about them? Are they pariahs as well? Well, maybe they are. Do I deserve to follow my own path but not be allowed to talk about? Am I allowed to exist in this space that I’ve created? Is this just part of the landscape that I live in?

SO much introspection from one less than stellar comment from some person I do not know and who does not know me and ultimately does not really even know what they are talking about.  I believe in evaluation, though, no matter how painful or unfair it seems. Suddenly I felt alone and targeted and like I was on an island by myself and….I just flashed on the Carrie scene where the mom says “They’re all gonna laugh at you!” for some reason. No one is laughing but when I experience comments like this, which is rare, I feel like Carrie, who is getting her period in the girl’s locker room and she is on the floor being pelted by tampons and maxi pads by a mob that relishes in the pain and embarrassment of others.

Public Pariah. Prison Pariah. The word pariah makes me think of piranha. No relation.

Of course, this public presentation has me thinking about my inner circle and what those people think about me. Anyone who has ever had anything negative to express about myself or Jeremy in my inner circle has either never said anything to me directly or they have just blocked me and disappeared. My brain goes to dark places, though, and I imagine people feeling silent contempt for me. I imagine all of this because sometimes being a human being means that although there are a thousand positive comments, the negative few are the ones that evoke the most in us.

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Shades of freedom

There is so much hesitation when talking about Jeremy’s potential for freedom, for release into the world and into my embrace. There is so much hesitation and so much trepidation that are at war with my hope and the vision that I have in my head of a life with my life partner. So much that I normally don`t even want to talk about it. I cannot talk about it some days. The thoughts and the feelings that those thoughts own sit on a shelf in the back of my mind, there for accessing but not for showing. What is the truth? That I`m terrified of my husband never getting a second chance and I feel a sense of overwhelming nervousness that he will, that we will be able to build a life after so many years of being apart the majority of the time. I live in this space between crying while laughing and laughing while crying and sometimes I`m not sure which one is which. There are days when I`m not sure if my life is very empty or very full. All I know is that I have a faint glimmer of hope and sometimes that is all you need to get out of bed in the morning, committed to your cause, ready to give it all you’ve got even though you are tired.

Jeremy and I have never known each other outside of prison walls. We have never eaten a meal at our dining room table together or held hands in the rain or been able to leave each other silly notes that are part smart ass, part madly in love. We have never shopped for groceries together, embraced in sadness beyond the barb wire. We have never shared immense joy the moment it happens out in the world, far from the confines of the prison and its rules, its walls. But…it feels like we have done all of those things and more. These last 15 years have felt like anything real is supposed to feel, complete with its ups and downs, two steps forward and ten steps back. No crazy imagination necessary. We built our own version of freedom ourselves and have sustained each other with the restraint breaking completeness that unconditional love provides. Him and I in our little bubble in the middle of a visiting room, on the phone with our louder than life laughter and the passionate affirming silence of two people who don`t need to say a word to know. We know each other better than we know ourselves and I never thought I would have that with another person.

The other day Jeremy told me that his friend Mike was rolling up and transferring to a prison up north, that he was giving up on his appeals and wanted the freedom of being at a prison that allows more time outside of the cell, but not one that inmates are really releasing from. This prison up north is where he is going to get comfortable, to settle into his sentence and maybe where he is going to leave this world. This news was unexpected and caught me off guard. “I didn’t know he was leaving. You didn’t tell me” I said​. I like Mike quite a bit and in fact, I just saw him the last time I visited. When he saw me, he lit up and gifted me a huge goofy grin and a wave. Upon my departure, he wished me a safe drive. I wish I would have paid attention to that moment a little better now.

I hate endings and I hate not knowing if I’ll ever see someone again. Knowing that he is relocating to come to terms with giving up on life on the outside pains me in a way that I cannot describe, but Jeremy explained to me that Mike wanted to be happy and he knew that he could be happy somewhere else, that as a habitual criminal in the past who has caught a serious sentence, that he knew he would probably never get out and didn`t want to pursue freedom to the outside world further.

Freedom is available in shades, in levels that are so personal to a person and a circumstance. Although I am sad about Mike, I have to think of his choice as liberation for him, one that he is choosing. How can I argue with that? I cannot. I can only wish him well and focus my attention on grasping my hope for my husband’s shade of freedom that involves a life beyond the prison gate.

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Holidays 2017

It always seems strange to me that I`m able to properly mourn any holiday without my husband because we haven’t really celebrated many holidays together, much less in the proper sense of traditional family gatherings. It really stuns me sometimes. I have never been in the presence of my husband, who I`ve been married to for over 8 years now, outside of prison walls. We have never gone shopping for gifts together, he has never seen me after one too many glasses of wine, we have never kissed under a stupid mistletoe. We have built an entire world together, over the last 15 + years, that has consisted of so much “making it work” and accepting the fact that we are two of the closest people, who just so happen to be separated by prison walls and a life sentence. It stuns me and it also renders me fragile when I think too much about it.

Displaying weakness is not strength of mine. Is that an oxymoron of a sentence or what? Speaking the hurt is not easy for me to do with those I`m closest to. I`m getting better at it, but sometimes it’s hard for me to put words to feelings that are tough. It’s hard to say “Hey I`m hurting. This marriage is awesome and I want to be happy, but I am very sad right now.” I think the holidays make loving someone in prison extra hard. You look around at all the holiday spirit and you want some of it, but there are big pieces missing. Pieces that are so big, so integral, that it seems almost impossible to really feel any type of genuine joy. I know that I find myself digging deep for holiday spirit and failing miserably at times.

That last paragraph was so  honest that now I feel uncomfortable, exposed, as if that were any more possible on this blog where I’ve laid myself bare. Like I said, it’s hard to talk about hurt at its core, about imagining what life would be like if Jeremy and I were able to be together and also imagining a life where we never knew each other or even a life where we parted ways. Speaking hurt, speaking the hard stuff doesn’t feel in the spirit of the season, but it is a truth that exists in my life and one that I am unable to sweep under the rug for another day, especially not at a time when our hearts as humans are enveloped in moments of….being together.

I have a relatively new friend who found me through social media and reads my blog (Hi!) and is also involved with someone in prison. We talk about the ridiculous prison stuff that makes us laugh, but we also talk about the stuff that hurts, the stuff that people shy away from and I am grateful for her conversation. She reminds me of myself in a lot of ways. We are very similar and although I`m not much older than her, I feel like she is a younger sister, a younger me and I want to shield her from maybe writing any of the tough blog entries I’ve written over the years. I also want to hug her and I want to thank her because her fresh friendship has made me feel hopeful again. It has made me feel young love vicariously and reminds me of when Jeremy and I first met.

I literally almost cried as I wrote that last sentence. The holidays will mess you up just as much as love will and together…they are the downfall of my emotional stability. So, the tough stuff. Sometimes you have to write it, speak it, embrace it, face it, and make peace with it. Hi my name is Desiree and I`m married to someone who lives in a prison and holidays are difficult and I am sad and this sucks and I want cookies.

I got an ad in my email box from eHarmony this morning and it made me laugh for some reason. “Don`t you want to spend the holidays with someone special?” Yes, eHarmony, I do.  I would also like eHarmony to fuck off.

I told Jeremy about the email and he asked me if I thought that if we both did the questionnaire if we would be matched together. He said he thought we would be. I`m sure, but who knows. ​I don`t know why life happens the way it does or why we gravitate towards the people we do, but I do know that putting words to the shitty feelings and the sadness allows a greater appreciation for the good stuff, even if it is muddled by the pain. Holiday lights still sparkle even when they are dim right?

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