Asundry thoughts by Stephanie Morgan, the singer for Stephaniesĭd, pop-noir band from Asheville, NC.


women's prison

last nite i had a dream about being arrested because my dog bit too many people. it was a loooooooooong and detailed dream; this one occurred in real time. even boring in places.

in handcuffs, i was taken to the jail. it was a gray and silver place that teemed with jail-clad women with bleach-blonde hair and dark roots. the women, having been there, or in and out of there, for a long time, seemed to know the drill, and be friends, or at least allies. they seemed friendly enough at first, and i to them, as i had less anxiety than curiosity and mild amusement about the whole experience; i thought the law that put me there (and its enforcement) was ludicrous, and that i was simply acting out my required 2-week stint in the slammer and as a bonus would take in an interesting social study.

i ate in the cafeteria with the rest. i remember the food being an amalgam of orange, amorphous stuff. don't remember how it tasted. on day 3 or 4, i began a series of required exams, including one with the jail dentist, which i considered a bonus because it was free, and it would only cost me 2 weeks of jail time. they repaired a cavity and gave me some sort of flouride treatment, which i didn't really agree with, but again, part of the social study, and not to be messed with. i continued to keep to myself mostly, observing, writing from time to time, and generally not associating with the other inmates except to be politely and minimally supportive.

many of the inmates had lesbian tendencies. i surmised that only a few were actual practicing lesbians outside the jailhouse, and the rest were experimenting due to the culture and general boredom. i didn't imbibe (that i recall), but maintained a mystery such that most women couldn't tell what my persuasion was. i probably thought it was best that way; pander to everybody, don't get hurt, write a good book after release.

as two weeks neared completion, i began talking to some of the staff about my crime, and about the strange and little-known law that could land a person in prison for their dog's misbehavior. i spoke flippantly, assuming their sympathy and general agreement about the circuslike nature of the situation ("and me, of all people... you know?"). the topic also came up in a prison group therapy session, where all the women began trying to figure out what made me tick, and why i was there in the first place. the leaders among them were incredulous. the therapy focus was upon owning one's issues and taking responsibility. i began to realize that the general sentiment was not in my favor: staff and inmates alike thought that i thought that i was too good for the place.

it was on.

asking staff members for access to the phone was met with increasingly less success. my easy relationship with even the cafeteria ladies turned cold and sour. i was taunted. pushed around. i fought back physically, and was surprisingly successful, but my naivete was overwhelming. upon the day of my supposed release, no one came to unlock the bars and no one applauded my inevitable return to "real life." instead, on my way to lunch with the other prisoners, i asked a guard to whom i should speak about my impending release, and she said, "i'll check your file," and when i tracked her down later, she said, "oh, i talked to the boss, and he won't be back until saturday, and he'll talk to you then." and on saturday, after i again pursued the guard, she said, "since you were peeking at the other women in the showers, your sentence is extended." she had the slightest grin of victory.

picky and/or ungrounded reasons were found to continue extending my stay. i began getting real with people. mad. i began looking for allies. none save one weak girl who couldn't save me in a fight. but she was somebody. she and i sat on some sort of stoop one day in the main office, waiting for the jail chaplain that i had manipulated into coming to talk to us. i had assumed correctly that most of the guards were of a protestant religious background and that god talk would be their weak spot. i ranted in an authoritative voice that i had rights and lawyers and that my relationship with jesus was suffering because i could not have fellowship in my congregation; that i could find my way if only i could speak with a man of the cloth. i assumed incorrectly that this man of the cloth would be unbiased regarding the jailhouse, the law, and my dog (i thought silently, "god/dog is my copilot"), and thus strongly sympathetic to my situation. he was tall, thin, wore glasses, looked the part of a philosophical, forward-thinking, pious man. but he said,

"well, stayfanie. i don't see the chraaast in ewe. i thank he's up and left you."

there was always an open door when we cleaned a certain area of the jailyard. a guard was pretty nonchalant about her duties there. i had never thought to walk out of it before, as i didn't want to suffer the consequences, and had initially more or less welcomed the jailtime (martyrdom has social benefits). but this time i just up and walked out. then started running. i heard yells and alarms behind me.

i can never run in dreams. i'm always very slow. i can speed up somewhat if i take to using my hands as well, like an animal. i try to gallop like a horse or dog, to get more traction on the ground. the chaser never seems to catch up, but it's an agonizing part of any dream for me. this chase went on for hours. the chaser kept changing shape, from a namibian athlete-looking person to a fat guard to a small child to a dog to a vehicle. i jumped over fences, climbed and leaped over buildings, scaled ivy, all in super slo-mo. nothing ever hurt, but i bled. it should have hurt. i tried to find a crowd to get lost in, but there seemed to be no one out. it was getting dark, and i considered stopping into a friend's house for a beer (i don't drink beer in real life). then i thought that would just make that old friend an accomplice, and i was already a bad friend for being lame about correspondence, so i kept "running", and came to an old apartment building with lots of brush and vines, and steep, white painted wooden external stairs. i was jumpy and terrified. the chaser and me did a hide-and-seek dance many times around those stairs. by this time, s/he was a small african child, turning into a small african baby in a blanket.

at the very top of those steep stairs, i threw that baby away from me. s/he landed on a sharp post, fell to the ground, and did not come to.