Today is the beginning of a new month and marks 12 days until I turn 30. Yikes. I didn't go to recreation today; I needed to catch up on some sleep. This past week has left me quite restless.
I wanted to write something I read recently from a book of wisdom. A man asks a Rabbi a question: "Something has been bothering me Rabbi…Slavery, wars, stealing land from Indians…how could all of these things happen in our country? I don't understand. Where was God?” The Rabbi thought for a second, then responded with a question of his own: "Where were people?”
September 2nd, 2007
It's almost 4:00am. Rain in on the horizon as great thick ugly grey clouds are creeping into the area. I can see lots of horses out in a pasture. There are four or five really pretty horses among the others. One horse keeps wandering up to a group of other horses and when he gets close the others pull up ahead. What's up with that? Ha Ha.
I don't know why but today I feel so lonely. I can't explain it other than being in this cell with no one to talk to or anything to do and it really sucks.
So I'll add this useless information: new Cure album December 5th, a double disc.
September 3rd, 2007
Today has been boring, rainy and depressing. My loneliness is pretty smothering today. I don't want to go into any details, but man, I feel like, you know when all you want to do is just cry on a shoulder, but there is no one there. I looked out my window and watched rain fall and thought, “God, it'd be nice to run out in that field as the rain falls down.” But I can't. I'm stuck in this God forsaken cell.
September 4th, 2007
I slept pretty well last night. Surprisingly my sleep did not get interrupted one single time until I woke up at 8:00am. I'm still a little down, but what can I do? I have no control over my brother or any other situation, so...
A funny incident happened today while I was out at recreation. Apparently a guard had misplaced a set of handcuff keys as they were picking up trays from lunch. This sent the guard into panic mode when he realized they were gone. A swarm of guards came into the pod and began looking everywhere. About forty-five minutes pass and a jerk of a sergeant says, "One of the offenders must have it. Strip out the inmates in the day rooms and lock the pod down." The guards begin to strip search each guy in each day room. I'm next up when one of the female guards goes to use the officer's restroom. She comes out and says, "I found the keys." The guard that lost the keys then remembered he had gone to wash his hands after picking up trays and left them on the basin. I tell the sergeant, "I guess you always assume us inmates are up to some sort of devious behavior, huh?" The sergeant scowls at me and walks off.
The sun is out right now, but it's supposed to rain again...
(Later that evening) It's raining now, realistically and metaphorically speaking. Rain…pouring down, pounding against my window, pounding against my heart, pounding, pounding, pounding until it breaks me apart. I'm so tired of the rain, of the fate of pain.
September 5th, 2007
It's 6:19am, and I'm about to go outside. I was going to try to sleep in and skip recreation, but because all I did was toss and turn throughout the night I told myself, screw it; you'll never get back to sleep anyway. Oddly enough, right now I'm not even tired even after only getting probably two hours sleep total. Okay, gotta go. I shall return.
8:47am...I've just returned from recreation. It drizzled a little, but other than that it was mind clearing. While I was outside I received my first birthday gift - a Calvin and Hobbs collection that was really cool. I have some truly wonderful friends and I'm blessed for that. I can't hug them or go hang out with them, but I can let them know I'm appreciative and honored. It lets me know that I'm not ever completely alone in this place.
It's relatively quiet right now and I need a nap. Before it gets too loud I might write more later on. Does it ever end? My cell has sprung a leak and I'm taking on water! Aaaah! I can't take it anymore!
September 10th, 2007
Today I'm slightly irritated…It seems that TDCJ just takes and takes. Now they are starting to restrict the kinds of writing supplies we are able to use. Apparently, according to their new rules on stationary, colored paper is considered, and I quote, "A security risk." That's right, colored PAPER! The notice that was given to all inmates today said that the paper could be broken down and the dye from the colored paper could be used to pose a threat to security. Okay, for one, I doubt very seriously if anyone is going to dye a uniform with bright red or neon green paper. I can see it now: a guy escapes, running across the field in hot pink. The guy in the guard tower radios to someone, "I ain't sure if I'm seein' things fellas, but I believe I just seen me a tellatubby or somethin' running like a bat out of hell across that there field. Either that or we're being invaded by them damn homos!" It's freakin' ridiculous. They can't even justify it with a legitimate excuse. What? The dye can be used as tattoo ink? Do you realize how much paper it would take to get even an ounce? No inmate on earth is going to pay ten bucks for a ream of colored paper for an ounce of dye. No, it comes down to control and complacency on the part of inmates. Pathetic. Oh, and this rule was decided on in July. It goes into effect on October 1st. Of course they didn't tell us until three weeks before October. Sheesh.
Sometimes when you're irritated guards are aware of it and there are some who will try to push and poke at you. There's one particular guard working today who not even his own co-workers like working with because he's generally just a miserable soul. After I came back from recreation they pulled me out for a shower. I grab my stuff and a razor. I like to shower and shave at the same time and we usually get about 10-20 minutes in the shower.
I don't think it had been even five minutes when the guard comes back around as I'm shaving my head and pounds on the little glass window with his handcuffs. I turn and look out the window and yell over the water, "That's a little unnecessary!" I mean, he was hitting the window hard. I finish up and wipe the steam off of the Plexiglas and start to dry off really slow. I'm watching him as I do this and you could see that he was agitated. When I get out of the shower I tell him, "What's the rush? Whether you like it or not, you're stuck here until shift change." A scowl was the only reply I received.
Other than all the garbage it is a really lovely day. I should've tried to get outside.
September 11th, 2007
I saw something I had never seen before since I've been on death row. I had just gotten up from a nap because I went out to recreation at 6:30am and really exercised hard with a new workout plan. By the time I took a shower I was pooped. I get up and just on a whim I decide to look out my window to see what the horses are up to. I stood on my bed and peered out across the field and noticed dozens of white herons swoop down to land on the grass. They were so beautiful to watch. Big, graceful with their long necks and bright yellow beaks. I yelled for other guys in their cells to check them out and everyone was oohing and aahing. It had to be a good omen.
Last night I received an interesting letter that had two addresses where my brother might be living. Well, one address was the one he had been staying at, and the other I'm guessing is where he's living. It's in Argyle and that's where my biological family lives. I haven't been in contact with them for years now. Actually, it's been just about four years, but I thought it would be interesting to tell the story of them.
My brother and I were adopted when we were little kids. Wesley was taken away by the state before I was and so we were separated for a short time. I met up with him again in a foster home in Dallas. The foster family had wanted to adopt Wesley, but not me. I was fortunate that I had a social worker who did not want Wesley and me to separate. Later on a family from Arlington adopted us when I was five and Wesley was two.
My parents never tried to hide things from us about our biological family. We had pictures and of course I had many memories - mostly bad. As the years passed I never really had any desire to find or contact them. I remember asking my dad a few questions here and there about them, but for the most part my adopted family was my family. Even to this day I consider my adoptive mom and dad my only parents.
Fast forward to 2002. I was awaiting my trial. My brother had been in and out of jail and fortunately for him, I think he had a sympathetic judge who gave him one last chance and ordered him to a drug rehabilitation program. He finished that and was released on probation, though he still had orders to continue to take drug counseling classes. One night when the guard brought my mail I noticed a letter with an unfamiliar name and address. I thought, huh, a new pen pal and opened the letter. It was written in a hard to decipher scrawl much like my own handwriting and the grammar was horrible, but I read through it and was amazed by what this lady was saying…She was my biological mother and she knew about the scar on my wrist and how I got it. She told me that she had met Wesley at the same rehabilitation place and when she heard his name she asked if his brother was one of the guys who escaped from prison. Wesley said, yeah, he is, and then she told him she was his biological mother. Wesley being the skeptic he always has been said, prove it, asking how I got the scar on my wrist. She went into great detail, providing more information than he or I knew.
As I read those words I didn't really know how to feel about it. I'd always treated my childhood with indifference, not really understanding the complete emotional and psychological effect it had on my life as a whole, but I was curious to know more about who I was, what kind of kid I was, etc. and so I wrote to her. I still couldn't bring myself to call her "mom" but I was willing to forgive her and learn about who she was and is. Our first visit was very difficult. Probably more so for her. I noticed that despite the very hard years that were etched into her face that she was once a beautiful woman. Our eyes were identical. When she first saw me she started crying and walked away from the visitation booth. When she came back she said, "I can't believe how beautiful you are. You and Wesley have always been in my heart and I've not once not thought about y'all…" We talked and I asked her if she had changed her life. She said he had. In hindsight, I feel a bit like a hypocrite for asking that, because at the time I had yet to take any big steps in bettering myself.
Time passed and my trial was coming up. She disappeared (for reasons I can't disclose due to my current appeals) and I felt she hadn't really changed who she was. A lot of empty promises were made and broken. When I came to death row I still kept in contact. I had been pushing for her to meet my wife at the time, and I wanted to build some sort of quasi family. It didn't work. More broken promises. By this time I was determined to really turn my life around. When you stare death in the face you tend to want to make life-altering decisions. I felt that I couldn't let things keep me from making the progress within myself that I wanted, and was determined to make. I chose to sever ties. I held no animosity or grudge and I can honestly say that I do forgive my biological parents, but I had to distance myself from them. A year ago I decided to write to my biological mother and tell her that if she was willing to make changes in her life, I'd love to try again, but I never received a response.
I wrote all of this to get to a point and tie it in with the mail I received last night. I recently read a book called The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. It's really a simple, but beautiful book that opened my eyes to a few things. The book is about listening to the soul of the world and universe and how we're all connected. In the book there's no such thing as a coincidence. You have to "listen" and then decide whether you want to act on any particular event. Life is a journey. But there are things that do guide us if we choose to open our ears and eyes. I haven't fully wrapped my head around the concept of fate and destiny or free will, those sorts of ideas, but the more I go through this life, even life on death row, I see and hear the signs. And so I feel it is no coincidence that I should be given an address that not only could lead to my brother, but also to my biological mother. Maybe it's time to extend the hand once again and write and let her know that I'm willing to give it another chance. Maybe the white herons were a good omen.
Not much else to report on today. I'm waiting for a good music program to start and then I plan on reading the rest of the afternoon.
September 12th, 2007
It's a little after midnight and I'm settling into my new cell. I was moved from C-Pod (where I spent a month, a new record for the amount of time I'd been able to stay in a single place) to D-Pod. I was supposed to be moved into 14 cell, but as I was being taken upstairs some other inmates started yelling, "Randy, don't go into the cell, they just moved a guy out of there because the toilet is broken!" Sure enough, when they opened the door to the cell a rotten smell hit us and there was a big ol' Mr. Hanky floating in the toilet. Fortunately, this turd was not singing to us or telling us to brush our teeth. I told the guard that I would not move into a cell that is broken and so they put me in the dayroom until they could get approval from a ranking officer to move me into another cell.
As I was waiting for my new cell, one of the female officers standing nearby asked me how old I was. I thought this was a strange question, as it came out of nowhere, and so I said, "I turn 30 tomorrow." She looked around to see if any other guards were paying attention, lowered her voice and said, "Happy Birthday." That was cool.
Finally I was told I'd be moving into 81 cell. It's not a bad cell at all, but I have no view. There'll be no watching the horses for a bit…I'm tired now and technically speaking I'm 30. Five years ago being up past midnight would've been nothing to me. Now I just want to get some sleep. Good night.
September 13th, 2007
Happy Birthday to me. What was that one Saturday Night Live skit in which one lady with the really tight red pants would say, "I like to kick, stretch, then kick again: I'm 50! 50 years old!" Well, I'm 30! 30 years old! I've dreaded this day for so long. I mean, I've had a bona fide fear of my thirties. It's silly and I'm not the superstitious kind of person, but when I was 16 a weird thing happened…On a dare from some friends I went and had my palm read. The lady pointed to what she called my "Life line" on my palm and she said I had until I was 32. Now, I hadn't really given it much thought until I ended up in prison. It sort of manifested itself into a reality in my mind. Weird as it may seem, I was starting to believe it. Then when I was put on death row and I calculated the average time it took for the appeals process - six years - it came to, yep, 32. I was like, crap…that figures. So, I've been dreading turning 30. Even though, realistically, now it can't come to 32 because the time it's taking is significantly longer than the average appeal. I'm still in the State Courts, whereas most appeals are in Federal Court by the four year mark. So I'm just being silly with my fear…I know I'm not destined to die in this place. I really believe that I'll be off death row sooner rather than later. Kenneth Foster's commutation only brought more encouragement. I also believe that those who are around in the next five to seven years can look forward to a nationwide moratorium. It's coming.
Anyway, it's actually been a pretty good birthday. Earlier today one of my friends surprised me with some vegetarian tacos he cooked up which were quite delicious. He also gave me a soda to wash it down. Haha. This evening I received a bunch of cards from various organizations and churches which was really nice, and a couple of cards from friends. Now that I'm "30" it's like I've entered some sort of club, like, ah…you're finally a REAL adult! I still feel 18 at times though.
Not much else to report around here.
September 14th, 2007
I'm so sore. I've been doing this new cardio workout and it's really beating me up. Plus I jogged for 20 minutes today. I'm hungry and sore.
I haven't really accomplished much today. I've just been lounging around. My mind is pretty blank. Sometimes the days are just a blank sheet of paper. Oh! (Thank God for word association!) I almost forgot…I had mentioned that TDCJ is changing it's stationary policy. Well, I wrote the mail room supervisor here on Polunsky and asked her to give a full disclosure of what will be considered "colored paper," as rules are often left to a unit's own interpretation. She wrote back saying that she was not going to allow us to write on anything but white paper. Period. Furthermore she was not going to allow letters that come in from the outside that are written or printed on colored paper. So…for those that do write to guys on Polunsky Unit or any other prison unit, after October 1st do not send us anything written on colored paper or the letter will be denied. This is important to remember. I do feel this is a very broad and unfair interpretation of the Administrative Policy that was put into place by TDCJ, so I'm asking everyone who does have contact with inmates within this system to write letters and even to start a petition in protest of such extremism. The rule is not about "security." It's about control. People can get dyes from the guards for crying out loud. I mean really flood Huntsville with letters, telephone calls, online petitions. Encourage those that you write to who are locked up to file a grievance. It's the only way there'll be a chance to have this rule tossed out. If this is allowed to slide by, as frivolous as paper might seem, they will try to see what else they can take away. I really believe that this is a test of how far they can take things.
Remember: October 1st, 2007.
I suppose on that note I shall end this entry for today.
September 15th, 2007
Good ol' Saturday. It's bright and sunny. Pretty hot, too. I don't have recreation today, so I'm just lounging around my cell, listening to the radio and catching up on writing. Very exciting stuff. Actually I'm bored out of my ever loving mind.
I'm taking a day's rest today from exercising, but I'm so bored that I'm considering hitting it anyway. Fun!
September 16th, 2007
What a beautiful Sunday afternoon. Some friends called into KDOL and gave some very wonderful and cheerful messages. Sun is pouring through my window and I've managed to stay busy all day long. In fact, I'm beginning to wind down as I wait for dinner. Once I finish up I'll start reading a Dean Koontz collection. I am not really a big fan of hack writing. I think I've become a book snob and have to just enjoy good ol' escapism writing the way it's meant to be enjoyed. Besides, in my early teens I was a HUGE Koontz fan. Whenever I'd come home from school I'd ask my mom to take me to a bookstore (man, I was a dork!). CDs and books were the first things I wanted when I came back home from Kentucky. Then I'd call up my best friend Chad and we'd catch up on the latest movies.
Last night I heard a bunch of good music, but what surprised me the most was hearing the full seven minute album version song of The Cure's "Pictures of You" on that new station called "Jack." At first I thought it would be a radio edit, which is like three minutes long, but when the intro went on for almost two minutes, I was like, "Hell yeah!" I never cared for the radio edit version because you have to listen to that song in its entirety. It builds to a heart break as the words tell a story of a guy looking back at a relationship… Then as you're really caught up Robert Smith wails, "If only I'd thought of the right words, I could've held onto your heart. If only I'd thought of the right words, I wouldn't be breaking apart all my pictures of you…" After the bridge the song goes into a second movement and it just really kicks ass. It's a depressing song, but a beautiful song. It was awesome to hear the full version. It'd been way too long. Years, to be exact.
I also heard a bunch of new wave songs that I've never heard before, and I thought I'd heard just about ALL new wave music. I love when I hit music gold. You turn out the lights, lie on your bed and just get lost in it and for a brief moment you forget you're in this godforsaken place.
Dinner is here.
September 27th, 2007
First, I am so sorry there were no entries for last week, but I think I threw them away. Sometimes I get so much junk I just begin to chuck stuff and whenever that happens I always lose something. Once I almost lost thirty $.41 stamps. Ugh! So, this time I think I lost my journals. Then this week for the most part I've been dealing with a tooth ache that has made it impossible to do anything. This morning I was feeling better. Right now as I type this I'm waiting for my friend from Germany who posts my journals to visit. I'm not exactly sure when he'll arrive, but I'm ready and anxious. I'm so grateful for all he's done and I can't wait to tell him. I can only hope that I make a good impression on him.
Hey, time for a visit…
Meeting Josef was wonderful. Such a calm, kind and compassionate man. Really amazing. I don't know why I've been blessed to have the people I do in my life, but they've had such a huge impact on who I've become over the past few years, I can't even begin to describe it. I still don't know what my personal journey in life is or where it will take me, but things are starting to show and reveal themselves…The feeling is euphoric. Compassion and love are like a drug. I feel I've tapped into something special here.
I'm so overloaded now. A visit like this will just knock you right off your feet and now I want to take a nap. I'm really tired...
September 28th, 2007
My day started off at 6:00am. I went outside and called my neighbor out to play basketball. It was a cool and easy sunrise and I thought, surely, I'm going to beat this guy's butt. Well, I didn't. I got stomped ten games to two. What made it even worse is the guy was 50 years old! Sheesh. I thought, well that's no way to start my day…Ha-ha.
I came in and showered and shaved, then shortly after was called to my visit. Right before I went to my own booth, I saw Mike, one of my co-defendants; he's the guy who dropped his appeals and is waiting to be executed. It's a sad thing, but seeing him smiling and so full of love and genuine peace was comforting. I hadn't seen him in two years, so when I passed him he says, "It's a shame, such a good looking guy and he cuts all his hair off…" I'm thinking, "Who is this?" And look and say, "Mike! Hey, I can't help it. I'm going bald!" Then I tell him, "I don't know how you're able to stay so strong." Before I got pulled away he said, "I'm at peace. I'm ready…" I don't agree with what he's doing, but I'm glad he's found peace.
I want to give an update on the paper rule. Due to the outside pressure of family and friends, they've amended the rule. We (inmates) will be allowed to use colored paper etc. until January 1st. Now, concerning people who write to us from outside, they will be allowed to continue to write on colored paper. Those letters won't be stopped. Also, inmates will be able to send cards and note cards that are colored and have colored envelopes. So, it's all good and everyone did a good job. My only comment concerning this is, and it's important to think about: if all the people who got in such a tiff over the paper would focus their complaints on the real, solid issues, what just happened with TDCJ actually changing the rule would happen a lot more with more pressing issues. Change can be had if everyone pressures them. You have a voice. You just proved it.
On that note I shall bid thee adieu. Good night. Blessings. And most of all Love and Peace.
September 29th, 2007
A beautiful Saturday. I'm just relaxing and enjoying the afternoon, still reflecting on the past visits. So precious and important to me. Something that my soul needed, not just as a cleansing, but as an affirmation that our destinies are not set in stone. That regardless of our situations, whatever walks of life they might be, we choose and can change our paths. God, the universe, whatever it is, I believe is bendable and workable, and we have to realize who we are and what we can become. I have a drive and desire now that I have not had in years - a revelation if you want to call it that, and I know now more than ever that my life does not end with this place or situation. More importantly, that love is the driving force of all things positive in this life. It makes everything and anything possible. The Beatles song, "Within You, Without You" comes to mind.
So when I went to recreation I was able to talk to my Jewish buddy, "Big Foot." He's starting a new myspace page that I hope to have a link to soon. He's very passionate about change just as I am.
It's been so hot the past couple of days. I hope that fall gets here soon. I'm ready for it. They've already passed out blankets, but they're of no use yet. That sucks. Ha-ha.
Well, I will just wait and wait and wait. Fall come on! What good is listening to "It's the great pumpkin, Charlie Brown" if it's not cool?
Guess I'll close here for now.
September 30th, 2007
As I type this Josef just called into the radio program. Wonderful…Change is coming!
I know this.
October 1st, 2007
Today I am just emotionally worn out from all the excitement of the last four days. I thought I'd be all right, but at times it just can wear you down. It's really wild when you can see and feel the psychological effects of being isolated in a single cell environment going on almost seven years now. I don't think a single soul back here is "perfectly fine." If they say that, they are liars or in denial.
Something did happen at dinner that I thought was kind of oddly funny, I guess for my weird sense of humor anyway…I'm a huge lover of sauerkraut. When I ate meat I'd ate it with anything. So for dinner on the normal trays they were having hot dogs, baked beans, sauerkraut and mustard/relish. I was happy that I got two servings of the kraut. As I'm eating it and working my way to the bottom of the tray there is half a hot dog. I don't know why I said it, but I told the guard as he passed by my cell, "Hey, since when did they start giving the vegetarians Cracker Jack prizes in their food?" I showed him and I couldn't stop laughing. I think he thought I must've lost my mind. I thought it was funny anyway. I mean, I haven't had a box of Cracker Jacks in probably 15 to 16 years and that reference came out of nowhere.
Well, time to listen to the wonderful PBS documentary "The War."
October 2nd, 2007
My neighbor has to be one of the best basketball players on death row. We went out again today and he demolished me 20 games to 2. Definitely not pretty. I mean, we were neck and neck almost every game, but he never missed a shot, so if and when I missed, I'd have to run my ass off and try to get two in to make up for it. It was a slaughter…
I've spent most of the day reading a book called God's Harvard about a college that trains its students to be warriors for Christ and to take the country back…It's bringing back all of these wacky memories from going to school in Kentucky. I mean, there were some teachers with exactly same views, and the rules concerning music and the dress code were identical. What's really striking about some of the views expressed in this book are how they are so similar with the views ideologically of, say, extreme Islam. What I mean is here we are bashing these views and you have people on the right who always are saying, "Well, in Islam women don't have rights etc…" Yet in evangelical Christianity the woman must submit to the man, women can't wear what they want to wear, etc…What's the difference? I was telling someone that the only reason some of these folks haven't gone around blowing things up (though some have, like abortion clinics…) is because it's not acceptable in our society. However, if a large group of people said, "Well, it's okay to blow things up in the name of your religion…" Trust me, some of them would be doing it.
Which leads me to something else…Tonight I received an article talking about how the Supreme Court was going to hear arguments about the unconstitutionality of the lethal injection method of the death penalty. The article was taken from USA Today and I guess on their website you can leave comments for or against the matter. So there are two comments that struck out and were just ignorant. One comments said, "Death penalty is not for the poor…it is for murderers and those that cannot live in a civil society." Okay, first, civil societies don't execute their citizens. The U.S. is the ONLY "civil" society that still does. Canada? Nope. Europe? Nope. England? Nope. Secondly, to say that the death penalty is not for the poor loses the point altogether. A poor person is less likely to receive a fair and proper trial as opposed to someone who can pay for good representation. If you don't believe that every citizen of this country should receive a fair trial then you, my friend, do not believe in our Constitution and therefore are a traitor to this country and qualify for the death penalty. (I'm being ironic, of course…) I suppose according to the guy who wrote that comment, all of those monks that were gunned down in Burma for calling on their government for freedom deserved to be beaten and shot down because they defied their leaders. Point is, if you say you want to live by the sword, then surely you should expect to die by the sword. As long as the death penalty exists in the U.S, any citizen in this country could very well be put down by the system that they believe in…Don't think for one second it's not possible, because innocents are killed all the time.
Whew…went on a little rant there, didn't ? So sorry!
October 3rd, 2007
Geeze, this week is already shooting by. Today is a no recreation day and I'm trying to get motivated to do something. It's pretty hot and I'm in a corner cell that has two walls that face the sun, so I'm cooking. Fall needs to come on in.
I'm going to sound like a dork, but I'm looking forward to Kid Nation tonight on CBS. I've listened to every episode and it's surprisingly good. The kids haven't gone "lord of the flies" yet and I'm really surprised at how they are all working together so well. There are a few spoiled brats, but my favorite kid is this girl who stood up for the chickens last week. A complete 10 year old little activist! They had a choice to kill and eat the chickens in their town or not. The kids took a vote and decided to eat them, so the girl locked herself in the chicken coup to keep the other kids from killing them! I was really proud of her. Ultimately she lost and was forced to come out, but after they killed the two chickens she did it again and made them promise not to kill anymore. Well, now there's some drama because at the end of each episode they vote and award a kid who works the hardest a $20,000 gold star, and this kid Greg had been working hard solely to win the money. There was another kid who genuinely won the money and deserved it, so Greg was pissed and at the end of the episode vowed that those who voted against him would pay…I really am a dork! Ha-ha.
Not much else going on around here. I'll probably finish the rest of the book I started reading yesterday and get caught up on some mail.
October 4th, 2007
I think my cell is haunted! I really don't believe in ghosts, but ever since I've been in this cell strange things have been happening. I'm on a pod where there have been a few suicides over the years so… Last night as I was falling asleep I hear two sharp raps on my door (yes, I use the word 'rap' in respect to Edgar Allen Poe. At least I didn't say, "Chamber door…"). I was just on the edge of sleep where you feel like you are floating and I shot awake thinking maybe a guard was at my door. I get out of bed and look out my door and there's no one on the run. I think that maybe my mind was creating sounds so I crawl back into bed. A few minutes later my t-shirt hanging on my clothes line falls down. At this point I'm a little spooked. Shortly after that I feel something pinch my skin a little bit. It was a very strange series of events. I tossed and turned the rest of the night.
It's been a relatively uneventful day.
October 5th, 2007
I went outside today and once again was beat down in basketball by my neighbor. I told him it was no fun playing anymore…I was kidding, of course. Earlier this morning I received the companion book to the PBS documentary "The War." I plan on starting the book tonight. I was flipping through the book and it is really dense, quite a bit more than I expected out of a companion book, but the pictures are really something… Some are pretty gruesome, but that sadly is war. I do believe that World War II was a necessary war, it's just sad that the world failed to learn it's lessons from that event and there is still death and destruction, genocide, greed…If the World War II book gets too heavy, I can always pick up the last book in the Harry Potter series, which has finally landed in my hot little hands. I really hope it's not a disappointing ending. Other guys who have read it back here have tried to give me hints and spoilers, but I immediately begin to yell, "I don't want to hear it lalalalalalala!!!!" We shall see.
It's a lame holiday weekend which translates to long and boring. I hope I'll stay occupied.
October 6th, 2007
So I began the book "The War" and I cannot put it down. It's a thousand times better than even the documentary. The narrative is intense and it flows, but rather than just reading something and have vague images flash through your mind, you actually see the battles as they play out. I've never read a historical book (other than historical fiction) that puts an event so clear and focused in the mind. It's odd because as I'm reading it I feel like I'm actually there. Even when the book steps away from the front lines and back into 'everyday normal life' back in Mobile, or Waterbury in the U.S.
I knew I would end up spending all of my weekend on this book, so I took my writing supplies out to the day room at six in the morning and during my recreation wrote a few letters. It's been grey and raining all day today, but it gives atmosphere to the book. Right now the allied forces are gearing up to invade the beaches of Normandy…
October 7th, 2007
Just a hundred pages to go. I really didn't want to stop, but I had to catch up on my chores. Clean my cell, do laundry, and listen to KDOL. I had some dreams last night about the war… It was crazy. This book has consumed my whole weekend. It officially goes into my top ten.
It's still grey outside, but warm and humid. I wish we could have some normal autumn weather…
October 8th, 2007
It's Columbus Day today. I didn't think they would run visits or mail but I just saw some guys go out to visit and the mail room ladies were here earlier.
I finished "The War" last night and was really impressed. I took it out to recreation today and gave it to one of my friends, "Big Foot." I know that he'll enjoy it and I asked him to share it with those he knows would also read it. I wish I could donate it to the library, as that is a very important book, but oddly enough they won't accept most donations from inmates. Well, I think they will, but what happens is the prisoners who work in the library keep books they like for themselves. Kind of a first dibs on the good books system.
A funny thing happened a little bit earlier. Big Foot was in our dayroom and there were about four or five of us having a sort of roundtable debate on the death penalty and such, and then it drifted into politics and about George Bush. Now, for the stranger who walks into a prison they probably have a preconceived notion that we are all uneducated dumb ass criminals. So, as we're all talking, a small group of about three women and four men all dressed up in business attire come strolling onto our pod. They stop in front of our dayroom while a bunch of prisoners are talking about politics. I swear you could see a wave of puzzlement wash over their faces and then one of the men leaned to another man and began to whisper. They all looked stunned. I love it when things like that happen, because I think when groups such as that walk into death row among the so called "worst of the worst" they expect (as even I once did) that all of us would be raging men and foaming at the mouth. Anything that defies that stereotype is one more victory for us.
They are actually passing out mail right now. Guess I'll close here.
October 9th 2007
Yes, my cell is haunted…It happened again early in the morning...I usually don't get up for breakfast, but for whatever reason I crawled out of bed and decided to get the biscuits and cereal. I also got a cup of coffee. I quickly scoffed everything down, but didn't drink the coffee. Instead I just let it sit on my desk. I fell back asleep when at about 4:45am I hear a loud, "Splash! Clank clank!" and I feel something on my arm. I think my arm is wet…and I realize the cup was knocked off of my table. I jump out of bed and begin to wipe everything up and there is coffee everywhere, on my papers, my Harry Potter book, on my typewriter, my sheets. I get everything cleaned up (some stuff was ruined) and I start to think that maybe I hit the table with my arm, I didn't feel myself smack into anything and with the force that the cup was sent flying I surely would have felt something! So I told the ghost in my cell, "Dude, chill out! I'll only be here two more freaking days!" and fell back to sleep. I'm only half kidding.
Today is an outside day and I plan on going outside and playing some ball. I'm determined not to get beat down. We shall see. Not much to report around here. I'm trying to stay busy.
October 10th 2007
It's Wednesday afternoon and it's been relatively uneventful. I was moved last night and I like the cell that I am in, but I didn't like it at first. For some reason they've been moving me into cells right after a mentally ill person has previously lived in it and I'm left to clean up the mess. This cell smelled like urine and was just filthy. It's all okay now though.
I wish I had something to write about, but it's been so slow recently and I haven't been in much of a writing mood…At least the sun is out and it finally has cooled off a fraction.
October 11th, 2007
Today feels exactly the same as yesterday. Exciting, huh?
October 12th, 2007
Today was kind of odd. I woke up at six in the morning for recreation, but because guys have been getting busted with cell phones, etc. they've been doing these surprise shake-downs each morning. They hit when everyone is sleeping to catch them off guard. About 10-15 guards swarm in like mad bees and start pulling inmates from their cells. So, they did this to A-section and that delayed recreation. I ended up going out at 9:00am.
When I was outside they put a guy out with me who I had gotten into it with about eight months ago. See, this dude had been masturbating in the dayroom and I found that very disrespectful. He and his lover were doing it to each other, one from the cell and one standing across from the door. When I went to look out of my door I was like, "Oh, shit!" and went and sat back down on my bed. When they were done I got up and told the guy he was disrespectful and disgusting. That spread like wild fire and suddenly I had been the one who "outed" that he was gay. Now, I could not care less if he's gay. I was only upset that he did his business out in the open and where others recreate.
So I'm outside and here he comes. He looks at me with this, "You…" expression and I smirk at him. First he starts to cuss me out, but I don't feel like getting into a shouting match with him and when he stops I say, "Well, regardless of how you feel, what you did was pretty disrespectful and I'm the only one who told you to your face. I haven't been bashing you or anything like that. Just keep it in your cell. That's gross, dude. Whetheryou're gay or not is not my business. Only you can say, but if you are you shouldn't be ashamed. I wasn't trying to make you look bad. If I did, I apologize. I just wanted you to know that what you did out in the open was wrong." He says, "Well, it's still fucked up." "Maybe," I said, "but you have to think about other people. If I put my hands on the bars I don't want to have to wonder if somebody's love juice is all over it. Know what I mean?"
We talked back and forth for a bit and he calmed down and said he didn't care if people knew he was gay or not. I said that was good. Be yourself. Stop trying to be someone you're not. You'll find life a lot easier. After that we got along fine.
That was today in a nutshell. Odd.
October 13th, 2007
It's Saturday evening and I'm about to get back into Harry Potter. Yes, I know, I'm a dork, but the book and series are good and I don't care. Ha! Earlier I made some tuna tacos for my neighbor's birthday. We enjoyed them. I liked doing something for him, too. He doesn't have a lot of support so to bring him a decent birthday made me feel good. I told him that whenever we go to the store that I'd get him an ice cream, too. He's only 19 and I feel bad because that's just too damn young to be on death row. I don't see how a jury can say that a person that young is beyond rehabilitation. Nuts.
I can't wait for Austin City Limits to come on in a bit. Tonight is the band Explosions in the Sky. Woohoo! I know it's going to be good.
Not much else has been going on today. It's been pretty laid back.
October 14th, 2007
I just finished listening to the radio show called "This American Life." Today the program was about rehabilitation in prison and a particular program in St. Louis that allows prisoners to put on plays by Shakespeare. It was very moving. By acting and reading the plays, they learn about themselves and identify with the characters in the play or plays. The success rate of these inmates was about 100%. It begs the question as to why more places aren't coming up with programs such as these to educate and rehabilitate prisoners. I think the country is slowly beginning to understand that locking guys up and throwing away the keys is no longer an acceptable solution to the problem.
It's really lovely outside. I'm once again in a cell where I can look out and see horses. I bet they are loving this cool weather. Though it's supposed to warm back up and storms are moving in. Mother Nature is going through menopause. Crazy.
I woke up this morning feeling pretty good. I got a full night's sleep and when I got up I just got to my daily duties. Now I'm fully caught up and waiting for KDOL's program to start, though the reception is messed up right now. It's not even coming in.
Today I should finish Harry Potter. Man, this book is violent…It's a bloodbath! I like how the author knew how to measure out the readers who grew up with the book's maturity. I mean, it makes sense that if you started reading this at 12 or 13 you would be old enough to handle the book as it now is. Very smart.
Well, I'm just rambling about and wanted to type up something for today.
October 15th, 2007
Well, that just sucks…It had been relatively nice outside when a storm came from nowhere. Then the lightning kicked in and it became a freakish light show. Things were fine with the reception on the radio and I was jamming when all of a sudden I heard a loud, "ccccckkkkkkk!" sound and the reception became very weak. I checked my TV and that was out completely. Others began to complain about much the same. Turns out the main antenna for general population's TV, and our radio signal, was jacked and fried. Lord knows how long it will be until it gets fixed. I mean, I can hear some stations but it's all pretty bad. Thank God I like to read. Ha-ha.
That was pretty much our excitement for the day…
October 16th, 2007
The sun is finally out, but radio reception is out completely as of now. General population is without TV so I don't imagine the antenna being messed up for much longer. They have to keep those guys pacified or they'll begin to have trouble.
I went outside early this morning and then was called out for an attorney visit. I was told that I'll be returning to Dallas County, where my trial was held, for a hearing in which one of my co-defendants is going to testify that I was not a shooter. I don't mind getting away from this place for a bit, but I'm not looking forward to Dallas County. For the two years I waited for my trial they would not let me recreate or do anything. I was searched three times a day and anytime I left my cell I was fully shackled. Plus, they kept me isolated from everyone else so I never knew what was going on. It sucked, and I ended up stressing out and such that I lost more than 45 pounds. I was down to 165, which I probably hadn't weighed since 7th grade. Maybe now that time has passed and I've been here without incident, they'll ease up and it won't be so bad. My time frame is anywhere from now to January so I'll keep you posted. Though, things are looking good for now...I'm optimistic about everything.
Not much else is happening. I just finished reading the last Harry Potter book and my neighbor has given me a World War II book called D-Day, which I'm about to get into. I'm fascinated by World War II after reading and listening to "The War."
October 17th, 2007
They fixed the main antenna today so everything is back to normal with our radio reception. I was surprised it was fixed so fast, but I think had it not been that general population was without TV and therefore not pacified, they wouldn't have been so quick to fix it.
I've spent most of the day reading another WW2 book called D-Day. It's about the invasion of Normandy, France. I'm just fascinated by the sacrifice and everything that went down during that period. Very powerful and moving stuff.
The sun is out and bright after a semi-stormy day. I will be going to recreation a bit late today, which is a little irritating, but I need to get out of this cell. I feel penned up. Well, that's probably because I am! I really don't have anything else to say or write about so I will close here.
October 18th, 2007
The radio antenna has been fixed. Some guys actually cheered and one guy began to scream, "My radio works!" The things we get excited over back here. I finished reading D-Day. Talk about an intense book. The battles on Omaha Beach seemed to be the worst. In one account, a captain sees a soldier dazed and walking around on the beach as shells and bullets are falling all around him. The captain sees that he's got some kind of wire that would be useful so he yells to the soldier to give him the wire. The solder casually replies, "I would, Sir, but what will I do with this?" and hands the captain his left arm! One guy gets his chin blown off and he's running up the beach trying to hold his jaw back on. War sucks. Though I do feel strongly the WW2 was one of those necessary ones.
My next book is on music and the brain by Oliver Sachs. He writes mainly about neurological issues and they tend to be very touching and funny. It's not dry science or medical mumbo-jumbo. I enjoy reading his books.
October 19th, 2007
The sun is out and it's a lovely day. I was supposed to go outside, but if I had it would've been at night and I didn't really feel like going out to recreation real late, so I asked the guards if I could go to a dayroom. They put me in A-Dayroom and I spent it talking about horror movies with a guy. It brought back a lot of memories. See, as a kid and even as a teen my parents forbade us to watch horror movies. I think it was mainly because when I was first adopted I used to have a lot of nightmares and I remember that my biological parents would always watch them with me in the room. I still get memory flashes of seeing "Jaws" and "Halloween" and a few others.
The first time I snuck around and watched a horror movie, I think I was about 11 or 12. I wanted to hang out with my best friends Blake and Chad. At first we were at Chad's house and then Blake said a really good movie was coming on Cinemax. Chad didn't have Cinemax so we went across the street to Blake's house. He put it on and a preview for "The Gate" came on with the announcement, "Coming up next." I looked at them and said, "Uh…I don't know…I'm not allowed to watch horror movies." They looked at me like I was crazy and started to make fun of me. "What are you, scared, Randy?" (I was, to be honest!) I said, "No! But my parents will ground me if they find out!" I didn't want to go home so I told them I would play outside until the movie ended. They teased me some more and I went out to the front yard. After about ten minutes I began to feel really stupid and so I went back inside and joined them. The movie did freak me out, especially one scene in which the kid opens his hand and there's an eyeball staring back at him! I think a little pee might've come out. Ha-ha. After that, though, I was hooked on scary movies. I just had to sneak around to watch them.
When the HBO series "Tales from the Crypt" came on it was at the same time my family would go swimming in the back yard and if it wasn't a rerun I would skip swimming with them so I could sneak in and watch it instead. I think my parents took it as being antiso-cial, but it wasn't! I was just trying to keep up with the show 'cause my friends who watched it would talk about it and I'd feel out of the loop. Sadly, had I known my current predicament I would've definitely spent the time with them instead. Hindsight doesn't do a lot of good in situations like that.
October 20th, 2007
It's a really pretty and cool Saturday morning. They are passing out lunch right now and I'm sitting here waiting to go to recreation. I slept pretty well last night and got up with plenty of energy. When I return from recreation I will write more. While I wait for recreation I've decided to write about this thing I just heard on the radio. It was a re-broadcast of a radio show called "Rula and Ryan's Roses." The premise is a guy or girl who thinks their lover his cheating on them has Rula or Ryan call them up with a scam for free roses from an upstart flower company. They ask them who they would like to send the roses to. Now, here is when it can get messy. The accuser is listening in on the conversation. Sometimes the suspect has the flowers sent to someone else, sometimes it's sent to their boyfriend or girlfriend. So, this lady calls in who is all but sure her husband is cheating on her. She says, "He's been hiding his cell phone and every time he's on the computer he turns it off if I walk near him or ask what he's doing…" and so forth. So, the radio calls this guy up and gives him the scam. "Where do you want these flowers sent?" Rula asks and the suspect says, "I would love to send these to my wife because our five year anniversary is coming up and it would be perfect…" Of course now they have to tell him it's a scam even though he passed the test, so they bring in the wife and she is still accusing him! She says, "Well, why are hiding things from me? He tells her he doesn't want to get into it over the radio, but she keeps pushing and the DJ's are encouraging her too. Finally he says, "All I wanted to do is surprise you…All those phone calls, the computer… everything…I've been trying to set up a surprise honeymoon for the same place and the same room that we had after our wedding." Silence. Then the wife says, "Uh…I feel really stupid. I'm so sorry." But now the guy feels exposed and he is pissed about her doing this live on the air. It was crazy.
I just got back from recreation. I picked up a horror book that looks to be very good. I can't wait to start it up here in a bit. Right now I'm listening to some crazy movie on the radio. It has Cameron Diaz. It's pretty strange. Hope you have a good evening.
October 21st, 2007
Today has been a busy day for me. I've been typing all day long and I'm just now on my last item - this journal. I'll be glad to finish 'cause I really want to get back into this book called City Infernal. It's kind of a rip off of Neil Gaiman's "Never Where", but it has some Clive Barker elements in the shock of its horror. I'm enjoying it, though. It's written well.
Last night I heard on the news (CBS 11 out of Houston) that they are tying to get people riled up that prisoners, especially death row prisoners, have blogs or journals online. They had the ever-hungry media whore Andy Kahan on it. He's the guy who acts all self righteous and loves to put prisoners down and speak up for victims, even when many families have said they do not want this guy as a mouthpiece for them. The guy is pretty miserable and full of it. I have to say that I am 100% full of empathy for any victim, but that being said I feel that I should be able to write about life here and contest the stereo-typical image and judgments of guys back here. Not only that, but I agree with what Ray Hill said during the news segment...In light of so many people being exonerated and such, without these websites, blogs and journals, those who are fighting would have no way of getting the truth out to the public, so it's essential in that regard. If someone is fighting for their life, how many avenues are there? The chances of getting a state appointed attorney that will do everything they are supposed to do is so rare it's a shame. What else is there to do? That's what has my ire today.
I've been thinking about an odd phenomenon back here…I don't know if there has been any study of this by psychiatrists, but I was talking to my neighbor about many people who are natural extroverts becoming introverts and vice versa. Even with myself, I'm a very private person, yet I've put myself out there by doing this journal and trying to get guys back here to get active in their own fight for saving their lives. I know one guy that when he got here was miserable and would not talk to anyone, yet, now he's probably one of the most outgoing people I know. I've known guys who come in and are loud and talk to everyone and then slowly shut down and become a shell of who they were. It's odd. I'm thinking it has to do with this segregated environment. It has to be psychological…
Something else to think about, I suppose.
October 22nd, 2017
If you look out of my window you'll see the buildings damp with rain. A light mist is coming down, and it almost looks like the fuzz you would see on a damaged television. Off in the distance and at an angle from where I am, you can see the horses out and about. A flock of white herons is moving from patch of ground to patch of ground, pecking away for something to eat.
Today is the first real day of fall we've had. I have to say it's about 65 degrees right now and just a little past noon time. It's supposed to get even cooler. I love it. I had to start writing this early to take my mind off of Rush Limbaugh. He kind of pissed me off bashing liberals. I very rarely listen to AM radio, as reception is very weak during the daytime, but someone told me a simple way of "boosting" the AM signal without doing anything severe to the radio and without risking the guards taking it. I kind of questioned his reliability in this, but as soon as I did it the AM jumped to life. Amazing what you learn in this place. A place where they hold us down, yet knowledge and experimentation can thrive. Anyway, I digress…
Something funny happened early this morning around 6:30am...I was sleeping soundly (if not having a very strange dream) when all of a sudden I heard a lot of commotion coming from out in the dayroom area. At first I thought it was just a guy being loud at recreation. It turns out he had been pulled out of his cell to be searched, but refused to let the sergeant strip search him. He kept saying, "Nah, man, you just want to see my ass!" So, they went and called the riot team. Now, I don't like it when they gas and beat up a guy, but the gas they sprayed at this guy didn't have the effect they wanted it to have. He only sneezed and said, "Hey, I can't see, Homies!" After a couple more bursts of gas he stripped out. Now, usually at this point most people who would be sprayed would be coughing and gagging. Not this guy! He stepped out of the day room after they handcuffed him and was walking with a strut and said, "I knew it wouldn't be no fair fight. That's the only reason I came out." Everyone was laughing so hard. It was quite comical.
About this strange dream…I dreamt that a church group came to bring everyone cookies back here, as every now and then a church group will do. Though, it didn't stop there. All of a sudden I was given a full bag of candy bars, then a huge bag filled with chips and all sorts of other candies. It just kept coming, bag after bag. Then a guy pulled out a CD player from a box and gave me that. Soon my cell was filled with food and all sorts of other things like art supplies and paper and such. They were doing this for every cell. I just found it very strange, especially since it seemed so realistic.
I guess I'm going to spend the rest of the day listening to the radio and reading.
October 23rd, 2007
Man, today is just gorgeous. I went outside and it felt like an early spring. There was a nice breeze and it wasn't too cold. Just right. When I was out I ended up talking to a new guy who just arrived on death row last night. Everyone on this section gave him food, snacks, writing supplies and hygiene items. He was very surprised and told me, "Death row is not what I expected." I told him how I was just as shocked when I first arrived. I said that I had expected silence of the lambs type stuff.
We went on to talk about the death penalty in general and I told him that he could waste away his time back here and get caught up in the negative aspects, or start fighting and working on his appeals. I mentioned that I've seen some pretty miraculous stuff and that nothing is final until the very end. Most importantly, I told him, was to try to use this time to reflect on his life and make positive changes. The jury said you couldn't change and therefore deserved to be killed. Prove them wrong. I can only hope those words inspired him.
He did tell me something I found to be odd. During his sentencing phase he said that the prosecutors used the "Texas 7" as one of the reasons he should be killed. I asked how this was relative to his case, and he said that they said a person with a lot of time or a life sentence would have nothing to lose and would figure out a way to escape and hurt or kill more people. I find it odd that the prosecutor would not address why someone would feel hopeless in the first place. I told the guy, regardless, they should not be allowed to use something that doesn't pertain to him or his case against him. Apparently this is standard and acceptable in a capital murder trial. Anything to make a juror have fear.
October 24th, 2007
Another beautiful day. I'm about to go to recreation and then I have to get ready in case I get moved. There's not a lot to write about today, as it's pretty average. Though, I'm sick and tired of this vegetarian tray I get. I mean, sick and tired! For the past two days I've had the same exact meal: black eyed peas, collard greens, carrots and three slices of bread. Nothing else. That's it. So what do I end up doing? Eating a bag of chips to counter that and screw up my body. I'm just so tired of this. There's no healthy alternative. Nothing this place sells or feeds us is healthy. It's all starch, fat, bread and sugar. I'm sick of it. What's so wild about it is that there's a growing trend of obesity and diabetes in prison, and TDCJ can't cover the growing medical expenses of guys who are locked up for life, yet they are obligated to care for these people. Instead of offering healthy alternatives, it just continues to get worse. Craziness. I'm living in crazy town.
I just had to vent. Ha-ha.
October 25th, 2007
Once again, I thought I would be moved, but it didn't happen. Tonight has to be the night. It's been a slow day. I did hear that they're shipping a bunch of AD-SEG (administrative segregation) inmates over here to the death row building because they shut down AD-SEG on the Beto 1 Unit in Tennessee Colony, due to the serious staff shortage. They cleared out two death row sections on F-Pod and moved those guys to empty cells on other pods. I didn't know that the staff shortage was that bad, but then again who wants to work in this hell hole and get paid what they get paid? The bad part of it is that to fill the shortage they'll just hire anyone and they'll be pretty bad guards. This is how abuse and corruption sets in. Guess they'd rather deal with that that paying them more.
October 26th, 2007
I'm just getting settled into my new cell. I'm on B-pod and right underneath the haunted cell I lived in just a few weeks ago. I hope the ghost doesn't decide to mess with me down here. In a way I was glad to get moved even if I don't really care too much for this pod. It's kind of decrepit. The cell is okay, though, there's air seeping in from everywhere. It's quite chilly. Even the bottom vent, which is supposed to suck air in, is blowing air out. I'm living in a refrigerator. Today was very nice, though. I ended up skipping recreation. Don't ask me why, 'cause I really don't know myself. When I turned it down I thought, why did I just do that? I think I'm going a little crazy. On top of that, the more I think about returning to Dallas County for my new hearing, the more I dread it. I was thinking it would be just my luck to be stuck there over the holidays. That place put some genuine fear in me. I can't even begin to describe what they did to us emotionally, psychologically. Two and a half years of hell and isolation. I lost forty freakin' pounds in that place. When I came to Death Row, I was so skinny that people thought I was sick. One time I wrote our judge to complain and my trial attorney told me not to do that again, because it looked like I was whining, and in light of the bigger picture, was bad for me. I thought to myself, I'm whining because I can't get health care? I'm whining because they won't let me leave my cell for recreation? I'm whining 'cause the guards are only giving me half of a food tray to eat? Ugh. I hated that place. If it weren't for a few true friends, I probably would've lost my mind. So… I dread going back.
It's getting late now and I have to get up early for recreation.
October 27th, 2007
A beautiful Saturday afternoon. It's a little cold, but I'm loving this fall weather. I really am. I just finished listening to KDOL broadcast the Anti Death Penalty March that was held in Houston today. They had a few people attending it and they were calling into KDOL and giving updates and such about the march. One woman, who is a death row guy's mother, was front and center in the action and close to the speakers so she held up her phone and we heard several speeches. They were really inspiring. One speaker who has a show on KPFT was talking about how one of the only ways to really get the policy makers attention is by hitting them in their pocket, which is something I've always believed. She suggested not paying taxes for something she doesn't believe in or support. Now…I'm not going to say for anyone to do that, but I do agree with it. I also think that countries we do business with who do not have capital punishment should refuse to do business with the U.S. until it's abolished. You've gotta hit them in their pocket. It was really good to be able to hear and I'm very thankful of KDOL for that.
Now it's later in the evening and I've been listening to various TV stations to see if they would say anything about the success or turn out of the march…Nothing. Not one single second was talked about. Apparently there was an immigration march and also a gay pride march today. I think that was bad timing for the anti dp march. But it goes to show that there is still a battle to be fought and it shows that Houston doesn't give a damn about this issue. Now I'm frustrated!
October 28th, 2007
Sunday morning. Man, it got cold last night! I stayed up until 1:30 A.M. for no particular reason, and then crashed out. When I got up I was freezing. I had to block my vents up, because the air coming through was like an artic blast. I should've exercised, but I don't feel like taking a cold wash after that so I'm going to hold off until I can get in the hot shower.
Nothing to report about today. Just going to listen to KDOL and relax.
October 29th, 2007
It's a little after nine at night. I just finished listening to the TV show "Heroes." Tonight's episode was pretty good. It had been dragging the last two episodes, but it's getting some feet now.
Today has been pretty boring. I was supposed to go to recreation at six this morning and had gone to sleep early last night. I woke up right at six and then a crew of guards showed up to do a surprise cell search on another section, and they had to put the other inmates in the day rooms so I was pushed back until after eight in the morning, which was fine by me. I just went back to sleep until eight. I got up and went to recreation and I had planned on exercising until someone gave me a cherry pie snack and that went out the window. I ate the cherry pie snack in semi bliss and walked my fat ass around in circles in a daze of cherry filling and sweet sugar dusted crust.
The rest of the day I pretty much lounged around and did nothing. A short while ago I was told by someone that they spent six hours reading my journals. At first I was surprised. It made me feel weird for a second, but I was told that some of it made them laugh so I felt a little bit better. I don't know, I hardly ever write this with an audience in mind. Most of the time I'm just rambling on to myself and so when someone tells me they read what I wrote…it's awkward.
Anyway, it got me thinking about the guards and I think sometimes I'm too critical of them. I think it has to do with having no control over your own life so it's natural to have a bit of resistance to them. True, there are some real jerks (same can be said of the inmates, too), but you know, there are genuinely nice people who work back here and are just doing their job. I can say that a good majority do treat us like humans and so long as no one's trying to hurt anyone or put their job at risk, we're really not yelled and barked at that much. I get frustrated with the lazy ones because I want to get out of this cell and do much of what they don't want to do myself. I don't know if this makes sense or not, but I get frustrated if I can't get my shower because a guard is just sitting around and knows it irritates us to wait…I get more irritated because I wish I could just walk to the shower myself. Truth be told, as far as actual TDCJ ad-seg policies are concerned, there are things I do every day that could warrant being written up, but I don't get a discipline case; like when you don't shave for two days, or I leave my cell without picking up everything off of my floor or off of my desk. I've never had a guard get onto me about that. I know when I was in general population the rules were very strict. My point is there are some nice people who work back here. It sucks being an inmate, though, 'cause you'll never be an equal (at least in the eyes of the system).
I think there could be some serious changes to make life better for both the inmates and the guards, and this building could use some serious work done on it. The irony in all of that is we're all locked in our cells having to deal with the conditions when if you allowed us to get out of our cells and clean and keep this place up, more than ¾ of the guys would gladly volunteer to do it. Without complaint. So goes life on death row…I have no idea how I went to rambling about all of this. Sorry!
I just started reading a horror novel called "Night Life" and here in a bit I'm going to listen to "Seinfeld" and "Family Guy." Ever since the antenna got zapped and then fixed, I've been listening to the station that plays them more often. I burnt out on Jay Leno. That guy lost his funny a long time ago. Though, I'll always be loyal to Conan O'Brien. Geeze, I just wasted your time with a bunch of nonsense. So sorry again.
October 30th, 2007
Man, today was really nice. I went outside and was able to play some basketball and actually won (barely). I took the tie at 11 games to 10. We had three games that went overtime, with one of those games going all the way to 25. We were playing a little differently today. You had to win by two so that made us work a little harder to win. Most people play first to get to ten points. It was quite refreshing and hopefully this will give me enough kick to stop being so lazy.
I changed my diet today, also. I decided to get taken off of the vegetarian tray. I am just so sick and tired of beans and peanut butter and jelly. Now, don't misread me. I'm still a vegetarian. The regular trays have far more food and I plan on eating around the meat. It's the only way I'm going to be able to eat healthily because the trays I've been getting are becoming progressively worse. Beans and bread. That was it. I just wish I had better options, but in this place I don't. Maybe things will change in time.
Later on this evening I plan on listening to "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown." It's a tradition I've been trying to keep. A way of staying in touch with the kid I once was. Whatever happened to that awesome Garfield Halloween special that used to always come on? The one where Garfield and Odie run into the pirate ghosts. My favorite line in that was Garfield saying, "Candy candy candy candy candy!!" I used to run around our house and drive mom and dad nuts with that. I can still remember my very first Halloween. It was strange. I had been with my adoptive parents for a few months. Before we went out trick or treating we ate something that had macaroni in it and I remember that Stevie Wonder's "I just called to say I love you" song was on. Then I remember going to the living room to get ready and my parents had the Disney channel on and they were playing the scary devil scene from the movie "Fantasia." I can't remember much else, but every time I hear that Stevie Wonder song I'm always taken back to that very memory.
December 3rd, 2007
It's December and officially Holiday Season, a time of year I particularly love and yet today I'm depressed for no apparent reason. Maybe it's because I keep anticipating going back to Dallas, maybe it's because I feel more alone than usual. Maybe it's because I wake up in this cell and think, damn, I'm still in this place? You have these super-realistic dreams, you're 18 and free and then a guard knocks on your door to make sure you are still alive, shattering the world you so wish was real. I can't begin to explain how bad that feeling is.
I tried to keep my mind occupied today by helping the guys back here to get their radios working properly. It keeps me busy and focused. I enjoy doing it. I'm still on the ad. seg. pod and some people can be difficult to deal with, but one of these days I'd love to bring change to this environment. I've got ideas, so hopefully I'll live to fulfill them. I really don't mind being back here any more as I love to pick up art work and such for cheap prices, but I have to save my pennies to get a new typewriter. So frustrating, but necessary because I have an important writing project. I've been asked to write an essay for an anti-death penalty book. That's something I look forward to doing. Then I have a personal project I've put off for years and I think I can finally write it, though it will probably never see the light of day.
I really have to set some goals for 2008. I mean, I already have long term goals mapped out if I win my appeal, but I'm thinking short term, more immediate goals. Sigh… Just thinking out loud…These are some of my days.
December 23rd, 2007
It's 12:44 P.M. as I sit here listening to the Christmas edition of "A Prairie Home Companion." It's cold and I'm drinking a steaming cup of hot cocoa as blue light pours through my cell window. It was supposed to rain last night, but it's gorgeous outside. You can tell it's one of those crisp winter days. Perfect for driving around and checking out all the houses and their holiday decorations. It's been years since I've done that.
Anyone who follows my journals knows I'm private about, you know, private stuff...I've grown up and matured since my marriage broke down. Lately, I just haven't been up to writing anything, as the past two months have been emotionally draining for me and to be honest I didn't feel like pouring my pains and troubles out to the world (some are probably saying right now - thank God!) and so I just internalized most of it and shut down for a bit. Not the best of ideas, but I'm feeling better and item number 5,547 on my things to do in 2008 list is: stop fretting over things you have no control over. Of course, I tell myself this every year and end up doing it anyway so I might as well chuck that one in the trash bin before the New Year even starts.
Last night I had a memory pop up that I hadn't had in a long time. It was something I was surprised I had forgotten and brought about by listening to the movie (dork alert) "Elf." I thought the movie was going to be cheesy, but I found it kind of touching in the sense that Will Ferrell's character Buddy the Elf was trying to reconnect with his father. I ended up missing my own dad very much and thought about things we had done on holidays and on school breaks, and I suddenly remembered the very last time I ever saw him in 1995.
I was living in a small studio apartment in Lexington, Kentucky, and knew my dad would by flying into Lexington to visit my brother for Family Day at our school OBI (Oneida Baptist Institute). I decided to surprise him at the airport and waited on his plane to fly in. Earlier that year he had a heart attack and I knew he had lost a lot of weight, but I was surprised to see how much he had lost as he walked into the terminal. I yelled, "Dad!" and walked up to him to give him a hug. He looked surprised, but accepted my embrace. "How did you know I was coming?" he asked. "Wes told me you were coming up for Family Day so I thought I'd surprise you," I said. "You look good," Dad said. "Man, so do you. You weren't joking about the weight loss. I can't believe it."
I walked with him and helped him pick up his luggage and he said he wanted to get something to eat, so I told him there was a nearby McDonalds and I would buy. We went to the fast food place, but he insisted on buying. As we ate we made small talk and he asked how my girlfriend and I were doing. I told him that after the fall break at OBI I would be returning to school. He told me he didn't think that would be a good idea, but I told him I didn't want to get a GED. I wanted to graduate. He changed the subject and asked if he could see my apartment. I knew it was a mess and honestly hadn't thought about letting him see it, but I said, "Sure," and we left to check it out.
I could tell by the look on his face that he knew I wasn't joking as we entered my small studio. I had junk everywhere, clothing, pizza boxes, dishes in the sink. "Uh, I was planning on cleaning it up later, but I've been busy getting ready to go back to school." "Uh-huh…well, it's not so bad." We talked a little bit more and he said that he'd stop by again with Wesley after Family Day…
A day passed and on Sunday he showed up. This time I had the apartment super clean. My dad and brother showed up and I gave both of them hugs. Dad asked if he could use my phone to call mom. I handed it to him and we all talked to her. Then dad said he had time to kill until his flight and asked what there was to do. I told him we could check out the Horse Race Museum and that's where we went. I remember taking some pictures with him and my brother and then we went to the airport. I gave them both a hug and told them to have a safe flight and watched them board the plane. Had I thought it would be the very last time I would see him I think I would have held the hug a little longer.
In 1996, as I sat in county jail, I remembered an AT&T commercial. It was Christmas and a kid who ran away from home goes to a pay phone. He tells the operator his story and asks if she will connect him to his home. A second passes and you see a shot of his mother answering the phone and he says, "Mom? I'm sorry. I want to come home…" Watching that commercial, I had to get up and go to my cell and cry my butt off. I wanted nothing more than to be at home. I still want nothing more than to be home, but even if that's not possible, I wish I had my family back.
This past Tuesday I had a little bit of good news. My attorney stopped by to tell me that I would for sure be returning to Dallas in mid-January. I should be there until February. He said I need to be prepared for some intense hearings, but I'm pleased that all of this is happening and that everything that went wrong in my trial is going to come to light. I feel good and positive that this is going to work out for the best. I don't look forward to reliving my trial, but maybe I'll gain some insight from these hearings.
The other benefit is just getting away from death row for a bit. I need to get away from this place. I need something that will give me a fresh perspective. Most of all, I think I will be able to clear my head. While it will undoubtedly be much noisier in Dallas County Jail, I can use the time away from the radio and interruptions of life here, to think about things, my life, and my future. Good can only come out of this trip. Here's to hoping for the best…
I suppose I will close this up for the day and wish everyone peace and love. Times can be tough and depressing, but someone always has it worse.
December 25th, 2007
Another holiday is almost over, and it had a good ending for me. I watched as the sun set out of my window and thought this had to be one stressful month! I'll spare you the whining…
The day began with the passing out of the dessert trays. These usually come first and are usually a Styrofoam plate loaded down with deviled eggs, sweet pickles, a couple pieces of pie and a couple of cookies. Then they pass out sack lunches that are for dinner. After they pass those items they pass out the lunch tray and this year we had a roll, potato salad, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and some roast beef and ham. I gave the meat to my neighbor and, man, was he happy. I get the craziest responses when I give meat away, but I'm trying to stick to my vegetarian diet.
After lunch I went out to recreation. I haven't been out of my cell for anything but my showers for the past three days, so I really needed to get out. Depression sucks and I find myself now just trying to avoid people when I get like that. Everyone just wants to get in your business. I know it's out of concern, mostly...
So, I read the craziest article in the Dallas Morning News last week that I had been meaning to address. It was pure hogwash. The article focused on people (mainly women) who write to death row prisoners. I mean, the journalist really put a bashing on those who show compassion, friendship or love to us, and while some of what the reporter wrote is true (such as inmates who take advantage of pen pals) the bulk of it was just hogwash. The purpose of the article was to demean those who get involved with our lives. They talked to some woman who works in the Lake Livingston Motel who was quoted as saying, "Sometimes when I see people coming to visit these men on death row I just want to shake them and say, "Are you stupid? They're just conning you!" Of course she has no problem taking their money to keep her motel running…
Other than the stigma of being on death row, I ask what is the difference between making a new friend in the world or going to a bar and picking someone up? And besides, there really aren't that many lovey-dovey type relationships back here. Do they exist? Of course. Love is found in the strangest of places. Love is love, but most relationships are platonic. Yes, some do con others by lying about how much an item might cost on commissary, or they might try to have multiple 'girl friends', but for the most part I would say that those who do write to guys on death row or in prison in general are not stupid or sick. They have a true altruistic spirit and want to help guys out back here. I think reaching out to a prisoner has to be one of the greatest expressions of compassion.
The other thing the reporter wrote that is mostly false is saying that guys trade personal pictures like baseball cards. I've been locked up 12 years and have never seen anyone trade off personal photos of their girl friends or wives like it's a Topps Baseball card (no gum included). Now, there are places where you can buy pictures of scantily clad women for stamps or money orders, and I have seen those traded like baseball cards, but not personal photos. There are too many jealous and insecure men back here for that to happen. Dudes would be trying to strangle each other. Whatever happened to journalistic integrity? It was a fluff piece. Garbage. Sensationalistic crap. I mean, why on earth did he close the article with a story from a warden telling of how he once caught an inmate having sex with a teacher on a desk? What was the point of that and how did it even have anything to do with the overall story? And to think the article was on the front page! That's the mainstream media for you. I know, I'm rambling. I can't even tell you the date of the article. I think it was Sunday, December 9th, 2007 or something...
Agh!! The past month has sucked so bad I can't even get my thoughts clear. I was reading something recently and ran across a touching poem written in the 1500's by a saint named Juan de Santo Matias. The poem is called "Sin arrimo y con arrimo" or "Without Help and With help."
Without help and with help
Without light and living in the darkness
Everything consumes me.
My soul is in threads.
From everything, something is grown
And uplifted by itself
Into life filled with ecstasy and richness
Only a being God helped.
For that reason it will be said,
The thing I most cherish
That my soul see itself even now.
Without help and with help.
December 26th, 2007
The holidays are over and things are getting back to normal here on Polunsky Unit. Well, except for New Years, that is. It's weird because when I go up and down the dial on my radio the xmas ads just vanished. No more music, nothing. It's kind of anti-climactic, if you ask me.
Today was okay. I went outside in nippy weather to play basketball. I just needed to run off some stress and the holiday blues. I had to find a soccer partner, and talked my neighbor into it. We played about 18 games and I won every single one. Though, I don't recommend running in the cold! The air ran straight through my lungs and I was coughing and hacking away. When I came back inside, my throat was hoarse. It was some much needed exercise and I loved it.
An interesting thing happened today that kind of touched me. A guard popped by to tell me he was quitting. He said, "I'm gone. Hope everything works out for you." I was kind of confused and asked, "You're gone?" He replied, "Yeah, I'm quitting. I just wanted to wish you good luck on your appeals and I hope you get off from back here. You don't belong back here." He had told me before that he had been following my case, so I was touched that he would stop by to tell me that. It's a weird feeling because many guys here on Ad-seg have said the same thing, that I don't belong on Death Row and that they're pulling for me. Now, these guys for the most part are pretty hardened men and they don't offer good wishes and such, so I take them as good omens for 2008. We shall see.
Peace and love.
December 27th, 2007
Madness!!! Someone on E-section has flooded their cell and it reached all the way to C-section. That's a lot of toilet water!! That's the second time this week. Apparently the guy who is doing it is mentally ill and the guys on his section with the help of guards, are also getting him hyped up. It really irks me when people pick on the mentally ill.
December 28th, 2007
It's Friday. Man, is this week flying by. I've just been sitting here going through my property, cleaning and clearing things out for my return to Dallas. I have to do this so that the property officer won't go in and clean me out of their own accord. I had to also find out through the laundry officer how to get my blanket and jacket back when I return. When I leave for my hearings I have to turn everything in (even if I'm coming back), including my mattress, my linens, everything. My property will be searched and then stored. It's kind of a pain, but, oh well. I realized that when I do go back to Dallas I'll probably get little sleep. My first couple of nights will take some adjusting to because it's incredibly loud, but it is what it is and I take it all in my stride.
I was incredibly saddened about the news that Benizier Bhutto was assassinated. Hearing the old interviews she sounds truly sincere in her love for the people of Pakistan. What a crazy world we live in.
Not much else is going on today. The day is winding down and I've got the radio on. Right now RadioHead's "Body Snatcher" is on. Damn good song. Another song I'm really enjoying at the moment is The Killers cover of Joy Division's "Shadow Play." Sick! (in a good way).
Peace and love.
December 30th, 2007
Wow. One more day to the new year. It makes me kind of anxious. Today started off well. Yesterday was incredibly boring and I just kicked back, but today I've been moving since the second I hopped out of bed. Last night I made a friendly bet with my neighbor to see who could be in the best shape by May. We're both in pretty bad shape so it should be interesting. I got up and exercised and then cleaned up and did laundry. Now I'm catching up on writing.
It's really nice outside. It'd be nicer to get out and play some ball. Maybe tomorrow before the cold front hits.
December 31st, 2007
It's New Year's Eve and 9:41 P.M. I'm currently listening to 94.5 The Buzz, a radio station out of Houston, and they are playing the top 94 songs of 2007. The list has been highly sucky, but they've managed to play a couple of good ones, "Super Massive Black Hole" and "Star Light" by Muse, "The Heinrich Maneuver" by Interpol, "Capital G" by Nine Inch Nails, "Tarantula" and "That's the Way My Love" by Smashing Pumpkins. The rest of the Alt Rock has stunk…
I like to keep certain things private, as it should be, but I really want to say this: I'm so freakin' tired of getting my hopes up. But it all helps me to get closer to my goal of not getting upset over things I have no control over. Easier said than done. Here's to hoping the new year starts better than it ended. I'm tired of being disappointed by people. Ah that's hypocritical. I know I'm one big disappointment myself.
Today was okay. I went to recreation and goofed around, exercised a bit, came back to my cell and stared at the wall. Lots of fun.