Don’t call us, we’ll call you

February 4, 2011

Illinois

Filed under: Incarceration research, Motherhood, Personal — Tags: , , — llcall @ 4:45 am

I’m feeling a bit down today.  I slept off yesterday’s massive headache, but still I feel exhausted.  All that wonderful momentum, gone.  The wind in my sails, gone.  So naturally, Neal was sent out for Oreos.

I don’t want to prolong this pity party, so I’ll just direct you to this post.  That pretty much sums it up, except that I’m not really annoyed at anyone in particular (in case you couldn’t tell, I was when I wrote that).  It’s just depressing to not be able to do what “normal” people can and know that some people don’t understand why because it’s not visible.

***

Instead of a pity party, I’ve been thinking about Illinois (the state, not the Sufjan Stevens album, although I admit I’ve had the line “she took us down to the edge of Decatur” running through my head for about three hours).  In case you don’t know, that’s where I did my thesis research interviewing men in jail, where (and why) I started this blog, where we met some of the best people we’ve ever known.  Neal and I are coming up on four years of marriage, and I think we would both agree that those four months in Illinois were probably the best, though for slightly different reasons, of course.

Things I loved about our time in Illinois: the people, especially the men I interviewed; our little apartment; the big shady trees that covered the path from the campus office to our apartment; and Neal having dinner ready every night when I got home from work.

Things Neal loved about our time in Illinois: not having to work (although he did some interviews at the jail) or go to school; pretending he was writing a novel while actually playing computer games and watching old TV shows (like MI-5); the amazing public library where he obtained said TV shows; and the people (sorry people, but you weren’t quite as good for Neal as that library).

But beyond all those specifics, it was just so exhilarating to start from scratch somewhere.  We love having family around here in Utah, but there was also something so appealing about packing up our little car and driving cross-country, just the two of us, to a place we had no history or personal connections (not that we didn’t have any connections because the wonderful Dyers helped us get set up with an apartment and the other essentials).  I have always loved the thrill of starting over someplace new, and I always marvel at how quickly I meet people that I can’t imagine I ever lived without knowing.

The Dyers, of course, fit in that category.  Although I worked more with Justin, I felt that his wife Aislin became something of a mentor for me as I contemplated becoming a mother with a chronic illness.  I’ve never seen a parent who is more constantly focused on teaching her children, in big and small ways, and how she musters the energy to do that with her own health limitations, I haven’t quite figured out — and certainly haven’t been able to emulate yet.  But presumably I have 17 more years to try to make use of all the wisdom I have garnered from Aislin.

Then there’s Brandon, who I’ve mentioned before, and will mention again shortly.  As in, tomorrow.

And finally, there’s the men and women I interviewed.  Twelve men in particular that I spent hours with in person and even more in transcribing, reviewing, coding, and analyzing the things that they told me.  Some of their faces are fading in my memory, but some of them are still clear as a bell.  They made an impression.  They’re brave people to have faced what they have and still be surviving, still trying to carve out a better life for themselves and their families.  Some of them told me about their fondest dreams and their most significant goals.  I hope they got what they were after, mostly another chance.  God knows I’ve had my share of chances — and the deck wasn’t even stacked against me.

I’ve written about some of these men already, but I guess I’m just bringing up this topic again because now that I’m back in the thick of my thesis work (though clearly, today is not indicative of that since I’ve mostly been lying in bed all day), I’ll be writing about them more.  You better hold me to it (and yes, I’m talking to you especially, Auds :)).

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1 Comment »

  1. Yea!! 🙂 I love hearing about your work in Illinois. I really hope your thesis turns into a book you publish some day. I think the wider world would be facinated and your writing style is addicting. Please do finish your thesis. Hope you’ll be feeling better.

    Comment by Audrey — February 4, 2011 @ 6:33 pm


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