Sitting here drinking cold coffee….  Since I’m still fighting this cold, I don’t like it hot so well — and anyway, our fairly new coffee pot only keeps it hot for two hours.  Lucky (the Doberman) got me up at 4:20 a.m. to go potty.  While I was downstairs (I take the dogs out through our basement door), since I knew Geri’s alarm would go off at 4:30, I went ahead and made the coffee and then climbed back into bed.  I usually don’t climb back into bed, partly because I can’t sleep when someone else is up around me (ever since prison), partly because I feel guilty sleeping when she’s going to work to pay the bills, and partly because I’m used to getting up early (also since prison, where the bright white lights came on at 6 or 5:30, depending on what year) — plus, the morning’s my most productive time.  I say the “bright white” lights (which might sound redundant), because in prison the lights never went totally off — in the dormitories dark blue lights shined all night, and white light streamed through from the bathroom area and sometimes the day room or the lamp on the officer’s desk.  Actually, I’m not sure whether to call it a bathroom or a restroom because both are misnomers.  You couldn’t take a bath there or rest there — though you could bathe there (just not in a tub, and not after “lights out” — which is another misnomer because, like I said, the lights never went totally out).  Oh — there were also the personal TVs that many of my fellow inmates had (I never did).  If you had a TV on the nightstand by your bed, you could leave it on all night, as long as you had headphones attached — even during the day, playing your TV without headphones was against the rules, though I always found the pictures on TV more distracting than the sound of it (but at least I could turn away from the pictures if I didn’t want distracted) — though some officers would come by and turn off your TV if they saw you were sleeping.  You could watch your TV all night, as long as you got up and made it to work the next day.  Every inmate in prison had a “job” — most were paid $18 a month for that job (some jobs required 5 hours of work a week, some 50 or more, though that was supposedly against the rules) — unless they had a “medical restriction,” essentially a certification from the prison doctor that excused them from work.  An inmate with a medical restriction made $3 a month for not working.  So the usual working inmate received a net $15 dollars a month from the State of Ohio for his labor.  But I digress….

I went back to bed this morning, but then almost immediately had to pee.  So while I was up again I figured the coffee must be done — went down to get Geri a cup (she was putting on makeup or doing her hair or something) and went back to bed again (it was probably 5 a.m.).  A few hours later, another of the dogs woke me up.  Geri was at work, the pot had turned off and the coffee was cold.  I hate wasting good coffee — but I also dislike microwaved coffee (since prison, too — but not just because of that).  So I’m drinking it cold.  But first I had to drink another Alka Seltzer Cold Plus, because I felt shittier than I did last night when a combination of good poetry/music, friends and Alka Seltzer Cold Plus helped me get through our 2nd annual St. Patrick’s Day poetry event at Bela Dubby.  And I forgot to mention root beer.  Normally I resist taking pills/tablets/medicine of any sort (besides Prilosec, because I have horrible heartburn, reflux, chest pain if I don’t), but I was determined not to miss Lix and Kix (and our featured performers Sammy Greenspan, Zach Ashley, and Trenchcoat Manifesto) and didn’t want to be coughing, sneezing, blowing my nose and/or having constant snot running down my lips and chin if I didn’t blow all night.  I still felt like doodoo (as I do now), but the ASCP makes it bearable and allows me to get something done.

Now for the big news — my mom’s been in the hospital since Sunday.  I hadn’t called to check on her or visited in a week or so because Geri’s sister, daughter and our four little grandchildren were staying with us from Friday through Sunday.  And then I started getting sick Sunday on our way home from dropping them off in Columbus.  I don’t go to Mom’s when I’m getting sick because the last thing she needs to pick up while nursing her fractured back is a cough.  And she’s been dealing with that for a while since she’s been reluctant to have back surgery if she can at all heal without it.  Well, the pain became so great Sunday, she had my step-dad take her to the emergency room.  The hospital then admitted her and apparently convinced her to finally have the surgery.  Anyway, my brother tried to call me Sunday to let me know, but I hadn’t taken my phone to Columbus.   He says he left a message, but I never got it, maybe because my voice mailbox was full.  Anyway, so Mom’s been in the hospital since Sunday and I didn’t find out till yesterday (Wednesday) around noon when my step-dad called me.  And I live pretty darned close to just around the corner from her house!

When I found out, I called her at the hospital.  She was understanding, as mom always is — more concerned with me, since I sounded like shit on the phone, than with herself, though she’s the one having back surgery and the excruciating pain that’s led up to it.  Of course I felt like a dick because I would’ve known where she was if I hadn’t been too consumed in my own work/activities and sickness to give her a call.  I had checked in on her Facebook page a few times — but though I noticed she hadn’t been on it in a week or so, that didn’t alarm me, because that’s common with her.  Anyway, she’s scheduled to have the back surgery today (Thursday) at noon.  I wanted badly to be there for and with her, both yesterday and today — thought if I slathered my arms and hands with disinfectant and kept my mouth covered with a mask I might not infect her — but she insisted I STAY PUT and just visit her when I’m over this and she’s home.  She even tried to talk me out of going to Lix and Kix last night.  But she knows I love her and am there “in spirit” (whatever that means — but it’s true).

Okay, this sick morning rambling has worn me out — and anyway, I need to blow my nose and get more cold coffee.  I’m tempted to go back and remove all references to prison from this blog.  Talking about it (and thinking about it) wearies me — and I feel I bring it up far more often than someone who’s been out nearly six years ought.  But part of the problem with writing a book about my experience is I can’t fully begin to put it behind me as long as the book’s not finished.  Then again, who am I kidding?  I’ll never be able to put it totally behind me, any more than the Lincoln memorial can put behind the statue of Abe in it that makes up a big part of what it is.  An imperfect analogy, I know — but cut me some slack.  Only a man with a fever would compare prison to the Great Emancipator.  And would sick morning rambling be sick morning rambling if edited — even if the editor was a sick morning rambler?  So here it is…

In the words of one of the Beatles on “Revolution #9”:  Take this, brother [or sister].  May it serve you well.

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