- What’s the story of someone you know who has spent time in prison? My mom’s cousin Shelly was one of those relatives that I heard a lot about growing up but never actually met, mostly because she was in prison. She got on drugs at a young age, and the extended family suspects she was introduced to it by her parents, who were addicts who died young. So she relied on her grandmother, my mom’s Aunt Cis. Shelly got out of prison around the time I graduated from high school–the first time I ever met her was at my graduation party, and my mom was a bit apprehensive because she was afraid Shelly would try to steal gifts or cards to get the money from them. Not too long before that, I’d seen a picture of a young Shelly while we were hunting through pictures for scrapbooks for the party, and she was really pretty. Years and hard drugs later, she looked much older than my mom, despite actually being younger. And that was the only time I saw her in person, although I heard plenty of stories over the years–she and Aunt Cis frequently asked for money, and it was clear to everyone but Aunt Cis that Shelly was back on drugs. To this day, it’s unclear if Aunt Cis was sort of in denial and enabling her or if she legitimately didn’t think Shelly was on drugs again. My Uncle Richard somehow ended up being the one to give in and give them money or buy them necessities, but he would always tell stories at basically any family function about how often they called or what sort of shenanigans Shelly got into, and he always swore he was done giving money or even answering the phone, but he always kept doing it. There were times when Shelly did briefly end up back in jail, and you knew it by how suddenly, everything was quiet and no one was calling for money. Finally, after years of this–my high-school graduation was eight years ago–Shelly died a few months ago. Apparently, she was actually of drugs at the time and did not die of an overdose, but rather severe heart damage. The suspicion is that heart trouble ran in her family and was made worse by the drug use, especially because her autopsy revealed the most damaged heart the medical team had ever seen,
- What is the most official trouble you’ve ever been in? Two speeding tickets, although I have done things that could’ve gotten me in worse official trouble.
- What’s the last program you binge-watched? I don’t binge watch! I don’t like it. It makes me feel lazy. I did do it a little with Weeds in college, but the most recent one was when Paul and I started watching Blood+ on Netflix and still had a ways to go when they said it was going to be removed from instant. So we started watching two episodes at a time, and then its last weekend on Netflix, we split the remaining episodes in half and finished it between either Friday night and Saturday or Saturday and Sunday.
- What would be good prison nicknames for a few people you know? Paul was given the nickname “Shorty” by Wild Bill of Band of Brothers fame when we met him at a WWII reenactment in Gettysburg. Brandon still calls him that–and of course, the joke is that Paul is 6’5″–and I expect it would transfer well over to prison.
- Of the usual prison jobs (library, electrical shop, laundry, cafeteria, gardener, clerical, etc.), which would you ask to be assigned to? Feel free to be creative! Something close to what I enjoy to do–library would be nice, maybe a little gardening. But my true focus would be to write my prison memoirs in the hopes of them one day turning into a hit Netflix original series.
As always, from Friday 5.