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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Another first for the American Presidency

I guess once he went black, he had to go back. But on a serious note, I heard the President's speech where he discussed his new goals for creating jobs in America. I applaud his efforts and appreciate his list of strategies but I made note of one glaring omission from his list, that would be a plan to attack this problem...even if it means listening to those of differing ideologies. Good luck with that Slick.

Well, if you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you might have noticed how, at times, my life reads like a bad country music song. My husband cheated, my dog died and once again, with no warning or inkling that it was a possibility, I found myself a guest at the local county lock up.

Now, before you ask, "What did she do this time?", let me explain. Twenty years ago I was in Illinois and I obtained a few traffic tickets. I was an unpleasant person at the time (compared to the sweetheart you know and love today) and I guess I was what you would call a "bad girl". When it came time to return to Virginia (where I lived at the time), I was hesitant to leave because of my pending court date.

Now, I do NOT tell this story to place blame anywhere but squarely on my own shoulders, this is simply what happened. My father was happy to see me go, of course, as I said, I wasn't the most pleasant house guest in the world. So, when I told him that I couldn't leave, he told me that he would handle the court problems for me.

Now, in retrospect, as I was sitting in my cell, I realized for the first time in TWENTY YEARS that he couldn't have done anything short of bribery and my dad is a law abiding citizen. My only explanation is that he IS my father, he IS an attorney and I WANTED to go home to my kids. So, I took his words and literally ran with them. Then, a few years later when I was coming to Illinois for a friend's wedding, I asked my dad again, "Am I OK to enter the state?" He assured me that he had checked me for warrants and that there were none. Since then, I've been coming and going to Illinois like I owned the place, assured of my cleared record.

If for one moment I thought that there were warrants for my arrest, I would have planned for bond and turned myself in on my own terms to clear the matter once and for all. Instead, I've been traipsing ignorantly around the Chicago suburbs, unaware of my Wanted status. I've enjoyed the company of police officers and spoken to the "guys on our beat", whom I know by name. Not once did anyone question my law abiding status.

So, Thursday morning, I laid in bed thinking about how I couldn't get my life back due to one disaster or another...usually health related. I had brain surgery around Christmas during which Dr. Mazumdar nicked an artery leading to an internal hemorrhage that left me quite ill and the recipient of 3 blood transfusions. Anyway, I was feeling rather down, depressed and useless. All I wanted to do was take 2 more of my xanax and go back to sleep.

Instead, I got out of bed and woke up my friend and spilled my guts to her, it was a regular friend pity session, complete with hugs and tears. Later on that day, I felt much better when all of a sudden I received an unexpected call from Dr. Mazumdar who was checking on my progress. I made the insane mistake of being totally honest with him and his response was to send the police to take me to the ER for a "discussion". The discussion lasted about 30 minutes and resulted in me being handed a brochure of local help-centers. Now all I needed was a ride home.

When a cop car pulled up at the ER door, I smiled, thinking they were going to be nice enough to give me a ride home. That was my last pleasant thought for a while.

"Are you my ride home?", I asked the officer. He responded, "No ma'am, I have a warrant for your arrest on a traffic charge from 1991." Once again, life began to get interesting as I stood there, stunned. I KNEW it had to be a mistake but I soon learned that it was not. Nothing had been done to address those twenty year old charges and in addition to the traffic tickets, I also had a Failure To Appear to which I had to answer.

I had my explanation, but as I said, when I thought about it Thursday night, I realized how stupid I had been in thinking that anyone but myself could have resolved the issue. Funny, in the past 20 years, it never occurred to me until that moment how ridiculous my logic was. Nevertheless, that's how I got to jail Thursday night.

Friday morning I had 2 court dates, one for the Failure To Appear and another in traffic court. I was lead to the 18th Circuit Court of DuPage County for the FTA warrant first. Soon after I arrived, I was taken in front of the judge, handcuffed to a wheelchair due to health reasons. She quickly and unceremoniously looked at me and said, "This case is dismissed."

Stunned once again, I said, "Excuse me?" to which she repeated herself, "The case is dismissed." I was fuzzy headed but I kinda assumed gratitude was in order so I thanked Her Honor and was rolled into traffic court, still quite emotional and drained, physically, psychologically, emotionally and spiritually.

There I met the Public Defender who said to me, "This is a traffic charge from 1991, I'm taking it to trial." She didn't ask me for my side or any questions related to the charge itself. When she and I went before the Judge, she simply said, "Your Honor, we're pleading Not Guilty and we want a jury trial."

His Honor laughed and said, "This is the oldest case on the books so you two figure out a date for trial." The prosecutor and my attorney decided on March 14th, so I have a new court date.

I called my father to ask him why the attorney would be so confident in my chances for an acquittal and he said he couldn't know without seeing the file. But he DID say that it was insane to press charges for the ticket after saying, "We don't mind that you never came to court for this charge." Whatever.

I have to call the attorney to find out her thoughts and then I'll have a better grasp on the situation, but that's it for now.

Because of Dr. Mazumdar's original complaint, I was kept in a 6X6 foot cell with a door that had a window and a slot for meals, like I usually see on TV. I didn't receive my medications until yesterday morning so I spent a lot of time trying to remain calm so that I didn't stroke out again or have a heart attack. It probably would have been easier if I weren't so claustrophobic.

While you're in jail, you know nothing of the attempts to get you out. I knew that my friend was prepared to do it Thursday night but they moved me from one jail to another while she was pulling into the parking lot...too late to bond me out.

Friday, the weather kept her from making the lengthy drive but I didn't know that. I had no idea why I was still alone in a box. By Saturday morning, I asked if there was a "hold" on me from some other local agency that I might have slighted and then forgotten about. The deputy said that there wasn't so I knew all that was keeping me there was a $300 bond...which started at $1,100 but was lowered after 2 of the charges were dismissed. It was now just a matter of time before I would be free.

As I said, Saturday morning, they finally gave me most of my meds so I was feeling much better. I knew my friend (Kelly, by the way) is afraid to drive in any sort off weather but I had no clue what the conditions were like outside. I began to worry that she wouldn't come get me out before the Bears game today. But some time around 2 PM yesterday, the deputy opened my sliding metal door and told me that I had made bond.

I didn't sleep the ENTIRE time I was in custody, mainly because of my fear of death, but the fact that I was in a cell with a 6 million watt fluorescent light didn't help matters. BTW, I didn't eat ANY of the county's fine cuisine...I felt too badly. But, I did notice that each and every unidentifiable meal, whether they be breakfast, lunch or dinner, smelled exactly the same. That truly had me perplexed and, for the second time in my life, absolutely terrified of food.

Well, I got home, took my medicine, including a sleeping pill and (after I called concerned family members) I went to bed and slept until 5 AM when I woke up and watched 2 episodes of Lock Up. There's nothing they can show on TV that allows you to feel the feeling that one feels when they are locked up, just trust me...it blows.

As I've told you this story, the sun has come up and it's a special day in Chicago. We'll be having friends over to watch the Bears game so I have to go bathe the jail residual off of me and put on some of my own clothes. I'll go now but before I do, let me say this...To the nit wit nurse at DuPage County Jail who was walking around the jail wearing her Green Bay paraphernalia in the midst of some pent up, angry Bears fans, good luck. Not for the game, but for yourself should things go badly for you. One more thing, take a bath, you smell like an ash tray.


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