April Fools Day. I think we all feel like fools on Death Row so no practical jokes are played. I went to bed last night at about 2am, and woke back up to exercise at 8:30am. I was very careful not to hurt my back. If I'm here on this pod on Tuesday, my neighbor promised he'd go outside with me to play some basketball. I don't want to get too excited as he stood me up last time. I don't know why people haven't been exercising as much or wanting to play ball. It's this damn isolated environment. It's breaking people down and that's scary.
Yesterday at recreation I kept smelling the stench of urine and feces. It was awful. I asked a guy where the putrid smell was coming from and he told me the cell. There are several things that immediately upset me about it (I suppose the natural reaction would be to say "what a nasty son of a bitch" or "old dirty ass bastard", and cuss the guy out for living that way. But it goes beyond living dirty) . From other accounts I've heard about this guy, he was clean and social, and a year or two ago he “flipped” and hasn't been the same since. I see it as a psychological manifestation and deserves proper treatment. Instead, the guards don't do anything to help nor does the psychiatric department. (What a farce!) Instead, they let him live like this. That is truly disgusting. I asked a guard passing by "Why don't y'all get him in the shower and have someone scrub his cell?‟ His reply was, “Well, if he wants to live that way let him. I ain't buying that crazy shit. He ain't crazy.” All of a sudden TDCJ guards have PhD's in psychiatry around this place...So, I see a growing trend of people withdrawing and not going to recreation, not showering, not exercising, and I suspect it will continue to worsen in this segregated environment. Heck, some days I feel like crap and don't want to do anything either.
It's now 8pm, and I just finished listening to that show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”. What a powerful show! I can't see what the house looks like, I can't see the tears of joy on the family's face, but still the emotional punch the show throws…I get all teary eyed! Programs like this allow me and others to feel human. When society labels us monsters - how many monsters do you know that cry listening to or watching extreme makeover? In an environment and system designed to take away our humanity, it still shows up in the oddest places. It still dwells in our hearts. We may have done bad things, but that seed of goodness still exists. It just takes the right conditions to help it grow. I'm reminded of the movie (okay I'm going to show my dorkiness…) “Return Of The Jedi” when Luke Skywalker tries to talk Darth Vader into leaving the dark side, Darth Vader replies, “It is too late for me.” Luke says something like, “No, it‟s not too late for you. I still see goodness in you” Despite the fact that Darth Vader had chopped off Luke's hand...My point is that some of us want a chance to show and prove the goodness within us. It is there, it is alive, and to me that makes the Death Penalty senseless and useless.
April 2nd, 2007
It's 6:33am...I'm about to go to recreation, but before I do I wanted to write about this dream I had before I woke up. It was very bizarre. I'm working in a large field; there were stars like diamonds in the sky and I watch myself appear maybe 200 yards away. A bright UFO like thing circling around. Then another UFO popped up and it headed straight for me watching everything. I panicked, but it suddenly flew off and disappeared. Suddenly fireworks began to explode everywhere. I mean, fourth of July style! Bright and vivid. I thought, “Why on earth are fireworks going off in the middle of the night?” A split second later (or what felt like a split second anyways). I was back at home talking to my mom and I asked what was around to eat. She told me to look in the fridge so I do. Inside is a whole bunch of T.V. dinners, frozen burritos etc. I dig around and I pull out a clear plastic baggy, but in the shape of Garfield The Cat…That's all I can remember. Strange dream. Gotta go to recreation. I shall return..
Just got back. I did a light workout and jogged for a bit, but because I didn't get up for breakfast, now I'm pretty hungry. Yummy beans! I had an idea for a story pop up while I was out at recreation based on my school years in Kentucky. It sprang from telling this guy about how we had to attend chapel services everyday during school. The sermons were boring and it would take all the will in the world to keep from falling asleep. Sometimes I'd jerk awake from the back of my head hitting the backboard of the pew, or I'd fall into whoever I was sitting next to. Sometimes I'd daydream or if I was lucky enough to sit next to a girlfriend, she'd have my attention.
Going into school breaks were just as bad. Very anticlimactic…Like, regular public school kids would watch the clock with anticipation, waiting for the school bell to ring. The end of the semester…We had a sermon that bored us to pieces. When it ended and the closing prayer was uttered you were just relieved it was over with.
Out of that, I came up with this paragraph as an opener from a story idea I had: It's fictional, but based on reality...
"Most school years end with a bell; mine ended with a sermon. I sat still trying everything I could to keep from falling asleep. I was paranoid that the president of the school had his eyes zeroed in on me as he sat in his chair next to the pastor's pulpit. I looked around the chapel to see a sea of students simplified by pure boredom as the chaplain rambled on about salvation and summer. Suddenly I imagined Jesus, the Christ, in a two piece bathing suit, long brown hair and cheeks sun kissed by the sun, swinging in an old truck tire high above a sparkling swimming hole. I began to chuckle to myself. “What‟s so funny?” A kid next to me whispered. “Nothing...Just laughing at my own irreverence.” I replied".
That's what I came up with while out on rec. I wonder if I can turn it into something? Hmmm. It's now 1:51pm, and I just came back from a nice shower, popped a butterscotch candy in my mouth and I'm about to pick up a book and read until I'm either told to pack up and move, or mail comes…
April 3rd, 2007
I went outside and played some ball with my neighbor. I think in a previous entry I mentioned how he's one of the best players on Death Row…We played for an hour and I was slaughtered. Out of 20 games I won 2. Two games! Oh well. It did feel so good to run in that cool morning air. The sun came out after we played and we got about an extra hour outside. The sun felt so nice towards the end of my recreation time. I made up my mind; as long as the guards approve it, I'm going to try to get outside more often. I figure since not as many people have been going to rec., it shouldn't be too difficult.
I've been wanting to write about a growing trend amongst Death Row prisoners who are about to be executed. More and more are refusing to walk to their deaths. Some have actually put up fights (which I don't condone, but do respect actually) some just make them carry them. People have mixed feelings about these methods, as they don't see the whole picture...They say, “Why do that? Why not go out peacefully or respectfully?” I've known true Christians who ultimately accepted their fate but still have refused to walk to their own deaths. One, it shows that you simply accept your murder and two, by carrying you to the gurney - it makes guards that might have just watched you die - actual hands on accomplices. The psychological possibilities long term have to be astounding. Maybe this view is extreme to some, but I see it as if you don't challenge their own morals and values then you are telling them it's okay to kill you. Imagine being a guard and having to carry a man to his death….I doubt it'd be a light hearted dinner topic, unless you were just sick hearted in the first place. So, I think it's great that more and more of us aren't walking to our deaths…I know I won't be.
3:31pm...Just got back from the shower. Man it felt good! I need to wash my exercise clothing. Then get ready to move - I have a hunch I'll be moving tonight. After I get all of that finished I'll finish reading this excellent book I started yesterday. I've only got 40 pages left. It's a coming of age story called "The Highest Tide". I found it at the bottom of my book bag. I could've sworn I had read it a while back, but didn't.
Anyways, I guess I'll close here. Oh yeah: Happy Passover!
April 8th, 2007
The weather here is insane right now...Last night I went to sleep and it was cold. In the middle of the night I had to get up and put my jacket on because it was about 30 degrees, and we had cold air coming out the air vents. Imagine sleeping in a meat locker. That's what it felt like. Just Friday it was in the '70s...Sheesh.
You know, a lot of the global warming nay sayers are retards for real...I heard this program this morning and one of these yahoos says, “Well, if it's so called global warming, why then is the country having record lows?” Because, you moron, when the atmosphere changes it sets off different reactions in the weather system. You're never going to have the same conditions all over the globe. One part might be freezing, another part unseasonably hot, another part with torrential rains, hurricanes, tornados..Various weather fronts clash..That's why it's like it is. Pick up a science book for crying out loud!
Anyways, it's still cold and a very boring day.
April 9th, 2007
Monday. Didn't do much all day long, I was waiting for a new comedy show to come on NBC so that I could listen to it and see if it was any good. Turned out to be great. But what I really wanted to listen to was a documentary on PBS about Jim Jones, the cult leader back in the '70s. That was very scary stuff. This guy recorded everything he did up to the very last minute in which he killed (murder/ suicide..) most of his followers. It was horrible to listen to all of these people screaming and crying after some had drank the kool aid. But his calm and patient voice is what freaked me out the most. All of these people are dying around him and he's calm, serene like. Frightening. I hope I don't get any nightmares...
I'm winding it down for the night. I have to get up early and go play some ball. The weather report predicted warm and sunny. I can't wait. I'll miss most of the sunshine though, as I'm going out at six. Ugh!
April 10th, 2007
Today has been cursed. I got up at six all hyped up and ready to go. I got almost a full eight hours of sleep which is rare for me. I turn on the radio, and I get ready for going outside. The weather report was still the same. What happens as soon as I step outside? It rains. The 30% chance of rain fell on us. We were stuck outside in cold rain for two hours. When I came back in I dried off and waited for my shower. I got my shower before lunch, but when lunch comes what do I do? Knock the tray off my desk, after tripping on my headphone cord and spill it all over me and my cell. Beans, cream corn and spinach everywhere. Lovely. On top of that, they tell me I'm getting moved to the ad-seg pod. I didn't care at first, thinking it would be as calm as it was four months ago. Wrong. It's a complete mad house here. In fact, as I write this at 12:34am some dude is screaming, “Fuck you fuckers!” over and over. Why, I do not know, but I feel like I've entered an insane asylum, or the twilight zone, or something else just as crazy. Oh well. I guess I'll stuff some toilet paper in my ears and try to get to sleep. Try..
April 11th, 2007
It's loud right now. It's been loud since I first stepped on E-pod. I was going to go to recreation, but I think I'm just going to pass for now. I'm going to ask the guard for a shower as soon as I see him. I can't believe how loud it is...I have my headphones on right now, turned all the way up and can still hear the madness…
April 13th, 2007
My attorney showed up today and things seem to be about the same. We have so much stuff that will help me out just growing and growing. I don't want to be too optimistic, because this is Texas and trust me anything can happen, but I feel good. I want to trust the system and that things will work out, but really only time will tell. I'm really tired and so I think I will take a nap.
April 15th, 2007
Yesterday was mostly a rainy day. I went to recreation and walked around and then came back in and ate some mixed nuts. I passed the day reading and then listened to a concert of the band “Garbage” on PBS. When I woke up this morning it was very chilly, but sunshine was pouring through my window. I've been cleaning out some junk, 'cause rumor has it we're going to be on lock down any day now. I should be exercising, but I keep putting it off. I'll do it later on. I mean, I've got all day, right? Really, I'm going to exercise...I mean it!
Tonight I want to listen to this documentary on PBS that‟s supposed to be really good called “America At A Cross Road” It starts off with the 9/11 incident and goes into our perception of the world and how the world perceives Americans. I'm actually looking forward to it. I love a good documentary.
Guess I'll stop here. Not much else happening around these parts.
April 16th, 2007
I'm taking a break from doing laundry right now. I've got one set (a t-shirt and shorts) drying right now and another two shirts soaking in my sink. Since today our section doesn't recreate I figured I'd get caught up on everything. It's gorgeous outside, and if I knew what direction I was facing I'd say “out to the south or north...” Haha, but really in the distance is a green pasture where normally horses would be grazing, but I can‟t see any. There are a few hawks gliding around, probably scanning the fields for a small snack. It's pretty interesting to watch.
Last night I listened to an awesome documentary called “America At A Cross Roads” on PBS. It's going to be six parts, and it started off talking about where the roots of Al Qae-da started. It also got into Islamic fundamentalism. Very fascinating stuff. What made it more interesting is that when the U.S. defeated the Taliban after 9/11 (which most of the Muslim world and had condemned) we had actually had the upper hand in “The war on terror.” When the U.S. invaded Iraq it was seen as a power grab and most of the world shunned the invasion. It fueled Muslim Extremism and we played into the hands of people such as Bin Laden. Tonight's second part will focus on Iraq. Some theorize that Al Qaeda's strategy now is to slowly bleed the U.S. out by stretching our fighting forces beyond capacities, because we'll chase them around anywhere, “like cowboys”, Bin Laden said. Eventually we will have no money to fight, nor the soldiers or Americans hearts. (Which is what is happening). Crazy stuff.
It's really loud right now. I just have one more day on this pod - hopefully! I'll be glad to move. It's now 7:26pm, and at 5pm I heard the news about the 32 students killed by a shooter at Virginia Tech. University. Just horrible. What is it inside of us that causes a snap deep within? What is it that creates a fissure so deep and jagged that separates us from our true selves? As I listened to the news reports, tears streamed down my face. What is happening to our humanity, not only as a country, but as a world? Is this our fate? To separate spiritually and regress into animals? I've been there, I know what it feels like to fall apart and lash out at everyone around me. But I also faced myself and knew this wasn't who I was - an animal…Something in our society and culture needs to change. I'm all for gun control. I despise guns, but it has to be deeper than that. We have to look at ourselves in the mirror. We have to ask questions and not be afraid of the answers…
Just random thoughts bouncing around my head right now. The sun is setting; a mixture of white and grey clouds washed against a sky of orange, violet, and blue. Perfect in its beauty but underneath, God's imperfect servants waiting for sleep.
April 17th - April 22nd, 2007 (in summary)
The past week was very boring and to be honest, depressing...
Tuesday I was moved to A-pod and it's not too bad up here. Last summer I got into it with this guy who's my current neighbor. He's a jerk, but I was shocked when he actually apologized for what happened last year. We don't talk too much, but it's nice to not have to avoid him all together.
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday all I pretty much did was read and go to rec. The weather has been really nice all week long and I got to go outside on Thursday. It was a pretty sunrise. Friday I relaxed and listened to a movie. Saturday was long and boring. My highlight was listening to a marathon of the T.V. show “Heroes” and then some music. I was going to stay up late and listen to this midnight movie, but passed out about a quarter of the way through. I woke up, cleaned up and have been listening to the radio and doing laundry.
Right now as I type this, dinner is being passed out and I've got my first batch of laundry hanging to dry. I've put my fan underneath it to speed up the process.
Guess I'll finish up here and kick back and wait on my dinner.
April 23rd, 2007
It's 7:00pm Monday night, and they're still running recreation and doing showers, though I've already had mine earlier today. The sun is setting, but it's not too spectacular tonight, as it's very grey outside. It looks like it might rain. I'm sitting here typing waiting for my favorite T.V. show to come on, “Heroes”. I can't see what's going on in it, but the story line is so good I can pretty much guess what's happening, plus I've read several magazines that help fill in the visual blanks.
I went outside today. The guy I went out with didn't want to play basketball, but would exercise with me so that's pretty much what we did for the time. I talked him into jogging with me for a bit. I said, “C'mon, just fifteen minutes. You can handle that.” He argued, “I'm only good for five. If that.” He didn't bring his watch out, but I did so I kept track of the time. He kept saying “Let me know when we get to five minutes..” As the time wore on he was pretty much squealing, “I know my time is up! Please!” I kept saying, “Almost there, almost five minutes.” When he looked like he was going to pass out I told him he ran for eleven minutes. He collapsed on the concrete and just laid there. It was so funny.
I came back in and have been reading and thinking. I heard on the radio that some guy went on a shooting spree in some apartment complex in Houston. Then, as it seems to be the standard practice after killing a bunch of folks, he killed himself. Life these days just seems to get more insane each minute. I think America in general has some real anger issues and until we can find a way to get past this and find true inner peace, then we're going to keep on having these shootings and all of this violence.
I remember reading some Sigmund Freud a while back and he was talking about how societies manifest things such as fear, and violence. He even went on so far as to say that religion was a manifested insanity of sorts, but I disagree with the latter idea. I do think our culture may indeed be manifesting this violence and anger, as it seems to be spreading like a virus. Saddening and crazy.
April 24th, 2007
I'm settling down for the night. I am so tired. About two hours ago I was moved to another cell and cleaning it up. I was pretty sure I was going to get moved earlier, so I had already packed my things up. Then at about six in the evening it was time for me to go outside and get my recreation. At the same time I was told by another guard that I was getting moved. That worked out pretty good for me.
Outside we played a couple of quick games of ball and did some exercising. It looked like it was going to pour, but the wind felt so good. I could've stayed out there all night. When I got on the next pod and right outside my cell, some guy in a real hostile voice yelled from his door, “Hey, who are you, what's your name?” The tone of the voice put up my guard, so I went to a defensive tone myself and said, “Randy.” “Randy who?” The voice said back. Now, this guy had his light out in his cell, so I couldn't see who it was. I was thinking that it must be some new guy who thought he was billy bad ass. I said, “Just Randy. What are you the police?” Then, the voice changed and he started laughing, “Calm down Randy, it's me! I'm just yanking your chain. Don't get mad!” I admit, I was getting a little irritated by the tone of the voice, but it just turned out to be a dude I was cool with. The joke was on me.
Not much has happened today. Been thinking a lot, but not been able to get things down on paper. I don't know why, but I have all of these ideas for things to write, but every time I try I just go blank. It's been like this since last August…
Guess I'll close here and brush my teeth, wash my face and go to sleep.
April 25th, 2007
Went to rec. Ate some cookies my neighbor shared with me and not much else.
Mind is blank.
April 26th, 2007
Tonight I've been thinking about a couple of things. I received a couple of emails that sent my heart and mind in two different directions. One email was from an old babysitter of me and my brother's and it brought back so many memories I had actually long forgotten. It was crazy. Even if I'm not sure if some of the memories were from the same babysitter or not. She did remind me of how she would let us stay up past our bed time watching movies and such until mom and dad got home. The way we could tell when they got home was the electric garage door. It would make this loud hum that would reverberate all through the house. That's when I'd take off running to my room and jump in bed. Shortly after I'd hear my dad and mom come in and ask how her night was. It's nice to know that people from a past that happened so long ago can actually remember you. You go through life thinking you are not even a blip on another's radar screen and turn out to be more than you thought.
The other email was a valid opinion against the death penalty, but I still feel they've got it all wrong. The only point I will concede with him on is when he said, “You can sit in prison, play ball...lay down - anything. The other person's life taken can do nothing and their families are left with nothing.” He's absolutely correct in this sentiment. I do deal with the guilt of that, and while I'm not a killer, I often think that our complaints about life back here are not valid, because there are victims of crimes who have nothing. There are people throughout this world with nothing, and here I am with many things. I never want to portray my life as me having a grand old time, because often it plain sucks. And that's not out of feeling sorry for myself, but because it's an existence. Nothing more, nothing less. We're kept alive and frozen in time until the day it's time to go. Also, my intentions in my writings and my fight against the death penalty is not to have people feel sorry for me or anyone else on Death Row; if I've done that, then I've failed completely in my intentions. My only point is to show that we are still human beings. So, that's what's on my mind tonight.
The day has been so-so. It would have been nice to go outside and get some sun. Instead, I just exercised in the day room and talked to a few guys on that section.
Time to get some shut eye.
April 27th, 2007
Got to go outside today. Man, did it feel nice. We played some basketball and I've really got to get good again. I lost 14 to 10. Ugh. I can't believe that I've gotten so bad. I mean, last year I was unbeatable. What happened? Either everyone got better or I just really suck. Sheesh. I think from here on out, I'm going to beg and plead the guards to get outside as much as possible. I really need to practice. I'm just going to start calling everyone I know out and challenging them. I'll trash talk everyone I know just to get them riled up so we can play...Yeah, that's what I'm going to do.
I can't believe the weekend is here already, and May is only a few days away. Craziness. So, today I heard on NPR that there's some Texas law maker trying to speed up the appeals process for anyone who's a so called “Cop Killer”. What upset me about the report is how he gave complete inaccurate statistics on the time it takes a current appeal for any inmate after about 1996. They had already stream lined the process under an anti-terrorism bill that was put into place so that they could execute Timothy McVeigh faster, after the Oklahoma City Bombings. Texas took full advantage of this law to kill it's own. If you look at the execution list from those who received the death penalty from about 1996, the appeals process has taken about 6 to 7 years tops. This guy claimed that the process takes about 12 plus years which just isn't true. Maybe on a national average, but not in Texas. Not only is this wrong, but it is only going to ensure that more innocent people will be killed. I'm hoping the other congress people of Texas will realize that.
You know, this is how blood thirsty the state of Texas is; most of the country has either abandoned the death penalty or slowed it down, while Texas is dug in and is trying to find quicker and better ways to kill people. It's sick. I mean, the Dallas Morning Newspaper has come out against the death penalty. There's a bit of a scandal going on in Harris County (Houston) in which a guy that was back here has received a new trial on grounds that none of his DNA matched the DNA of that found on the evidence...What happens when he's brought back to Harris County for the trial? The evidence that the prosecutors are sure will find him not guilty, is mysteriously gone missing and can't be found. How sickening is that? And so the Texas legislature still wants to find new ways to execute people?
April 29th, 2007
It's Sunday afternoon as I type this. It looks gorgeous out my window, with sunlight pouring into my cell. I woke up this morning at about 8:30 A.M. and started my day. I kept telling myself to exercise, but then the lazy part of my brain said, “nah, you've got all day to do it.” Finally I had to override Mr. Sloth and say, “Listen fat ass, you're going to exercise right now.” Turned out to be really good. Intense. Though, my back is a little tender right now.
Other than that, I've just been doing laundry and listening to the radio. Just thought I'd drop in and say, “Howdy” so.. Howdy.
April 30th, 2007
(Warning: contains foul language)
It's the last day of the month and then May is here. April really flew by! I'm actually looking forward to May. Don't ask me why, it just feels like it's going to be good. Many of my friends' birthdays are in May, and you've got Mothers Day, Cinco De Mayo (which always means a good meal on that day). It's when we start getting a few slices of watermelon every now and then as well. And my friend David is coming this Thursday and Friday to visit. I'm excited about the month.
Man, my brain is just going crazy with ideas today. I've been writing pretty much non-stop since ten in the morning and it's 3:11pm right now...I've got so much more to write! Actually, I just got done writing a couple of articles for an anti dp movement. Now I'm doing my journal. I'm a mad man! I feel like a dam in my mind has been blasted open...I'm rambling...I promise I've only had one cup of coffee earlier this morning.
Right now it looks gorgeous outside. It was forecast to rain and I thought it might actually do so, because it was so overcast. It's pretty warm, too. I should turn on my fan. Rambling again.
So, today I was going to share another prison story. To be honest, I don‟t know if I've written this one in my journal or not. I've told it to a few of my friends, so maybe that's why it feels rehashed, but it's a pretty ugly, but powerful one to tell about the machinations of life in general population…I think I was about twenty years old. I'd only been on the Conally Unit for about three or four months and I was starting to get an idea of how everything really was in a real prison. A month of so earlier we had gotten off a summer long lockdown after a huge gang fight broke out in the dormitory and a couple of inmates had been killed by having their head bashed by cans of mackeral (they've since done away with all canned foods that were sold) that were placed in socks and used as weapons. I remember looking out the window of my cell and watching as a nurse walked alongside a gurney with what appeared to be a Hispanic guy, his head split open. After that incident the entire prison was placed on lock down.
My cell mate was a black guy they called “Psycho”. We actually got along fairly well and spent the time on lock down bonding and playing scrabble and “Battle Ship”. I didn't have a radio of my own, so he would let me listen to it late at night and when he took naps. I always thought that was really cool. Psycho had a few mental problems, though and I had to get used to them. It was the first time I'd ever been housed with a guy like him, but I learned to deal with it. One example of his mental health issue was that he would sprinkle cum all over the toilet seat, but then not clean it off. So if I had to use the bathroom and it was very urgent, I'd have to dance around and clean the seat of the toilet before messing myself. It got frustrating at times and I'd ask him to not do that, but what could you do? We're in prison and you can't tell another man what to do. He also used to cut words out of magazines and label things all over the cell with the various words. I drew the line at bringing spiders and other insects in from working in the fields though.
During this time that he was my cell mate, a guy had loaned a magazine to me. While I was in the dayroom watching T.V. he asked if he could get his magazine back. I said sure and went up stairs and asked Psycho to hand me the magazine. He grabbed it from under my bunk and slid it to me under the door. “preciate it, Celly.” I said and left to return it to the guy and resumed watching T.V. Not long after that, the guy that loaned me the magazine came up to me very upset. “What the fuck happened to my magazine? It's all cut up.” He said. “Dude, what are you talking about? I didn't do shit to it.” I said. “Man, I was flipping through it and it's cut up, here look at it.” He handed me the magazine and I flipped through it. I noticed that words had been cut out of various pages. My stomach dropped. “Dude, my celly did this. I'll go talk to him". I said. “No, I'll go to talk to him. He fucked up.” “Dude, it was my responsibility. I'll go ask him. Calm down.” I said.
I went back upstairs and asked my cellmate about the words being cut out. He immediately denied it. As I was talking to him, the upset guy came up behind me and started raising his voice, cussing Psycho out. From the point of the day room it looked like two white guys trying to check a black dude and a few black guys playing dominos didn't like this at all. One of them came up the stairs to ask what was going on and that two white boys wouldn't be checking a black guy. I explained to the black guy what happened and told him it was my problem. Then, I told the magazine owner that he needed to let me handle things before he started a freakin' riot. I was trying to be as calm and diplomatic about the situation as possible. This had every potential of turning into something huge and it didn't need to be like that. I was scared as hell and never had been in this situation. I wasn't street smart and if pushed too far I could easily become angry myself.
“Look, Psycho. You're the only person I know who cuts words out of magazines. Just admit it and replace the magazine. That'll be it. It's all I'm asking. This guy is very pissed right now. I'm responsible.
“I didn't do it.” He replied.
“Yeah, you did. Damn, why are you being so difficult?”
All of a sudden Psycho erupted. “Fuck you, bitch! White son of a bitch. Get the fuck away from me!” He yelled this so loud that everyone in the day room had looked up at me and a few guys whispered something amongst themselves. He had just disrespected me in front of a whole bunch of people which was not good. To be honest, I was shocked, turned around and went back downstairs. When I got back to the day room some white guys approached me.
“Say, Randy you gonna let that guy talk to you like that? What's up with that?”
“Man, don't talk to me like that. He's my celly, he's just troubled. He's having an episode.”
“Dude he just disrespected you in front of everyone. You don't check him and someone is going to think you're a punk and then next thing you know dude's will be grabbing your ass.” Said another white guy. I felt cornered. It was already hard enough being Jewish, the last thing I needed was to worry about people trying to take my ass. I had no choice. I had to fight him.
“When they roll the doors, I'll go fight him.” I said sounding unsure to myself.
“Yeah, that's good Randy. Go earn your respect.” I notice the little group of white people watching me as I walked upstairs; the black guys watched me as if thinking I had pussy, as they say.
I went back upstairs and my cell mate was pacing back and forth nervously. “Say, Psycho, when they roll the doors, just stay in the cell. We have to fight.”
“Aww, Randy, man, I apologize. Okay. I cut up the magazine. I'll replace it. Tell him I'll give him my radio.”
“Dude, I don't want to fight you either, but I have no choice. You disrespected me in front of everyone. My hands are tied.”
The cell door opened and I went into the cell. I noticed a couple of guys came upstairs to my cell and stood outside it to make sure we fought. I put up my towel in the window so no one could see inside from the control center and then I said, “C‟mon, celly, let's get this over with.” He understood and so we began to swing at each other. I remember it lasting only a minute or so and I had a busted lip. I pulled the cell door down and the guys confirmed we fought. I apologized to my cell mate and he apologized to me and we both agreed to just let it go. I told him, “Do not give that guy your radio, it's not worth that. Give him a few snacks to replace the magazine so we can squash this crap. Okay?”
About an hour later, they opened the cell doors back up and I was able to go back into the dayroom. People, whites and blacks were shaking my hand for fighting. It was the oddest thing in the world. Just an hour earlier everyone was looking at me like they wanted to kill me, now guys were saying I had their respect. I remember thinking how pitiful it was that people had to fight to be respected, but I then realized that prison is a rude awakening. I did learn an important lesson in politics, though.
Dinner has just arrived, so I will close here. I'm actually going to knock out a few exercises, take a bird bath and then eat my yummy beans. I think I've written enough for the day. Oh, before I close I'd like to suggest some required reading. This will really open your eyes on some other aspects of the death penalty. The book is called Deadly Speculation: Misleading Texas Capital Juries With False Predictions Of Future Dangerousness. You can get this book at www.texasdefender.org.
May 1st, 2007
I just got back from a shower that felt wonderful. It's been hot and muggy all day today and then I went out to play some ball, which didn't go too well. My game has really been off. I lost, I'll not tell the score. I'll just say it was pretty ugly. I even had a wipe out. I hit a wet spot from last nights rain and my feet went right from underneath me. Scared the crap out of me, because had I not landed on my butt, it would've been ugly. The guy I was playing freaked out for a second and was about to call the guards, but I got up and said I was okay.
After we played we were talking about the death penalty. He's been on death row since it was reinstated in 1976. A long time, for sure. He'd never seen anyone being taken away for an execution, but last Wednesday he saw a guy lead out to the van for the first time. He said that up until that point he'd not really given his possible fate much thought until he saw that, then it sunk in. Because he's been on death row for so long and he was under the old appeals laws, he figured if they hadn't killed him yet, they probably wouldn't. I asked him if I could do an on the spot interview about it and here's his account:
Q: What do I call you in the interview?
A: Artie is fine.
Q: What pod are you on and can you explain the view that you have from your cell?
A: I'm on B-pod. My cell faces the side walk that goes out to visitation. On the other end is a kind of sally port where buses and vans pull in. The walk way is fenced and there's a building right across from our building. I guess they have general population inmates there, cause I always see them go into this little entrance area.
Q: So, from your cell you can actually see the visitation building and also the sally port?
Q: Artie, do you mind explaining to me what you witnessed last week and also do you remember the day or date?
A: Yeah, it was Wednesday the 26th.
Q: Of April, right?
Q: Okay, explain to me what you saw.
A: Yeah, it was that white guy they call "Sleepy"...It was his date and I was looking out my window -
Q: Hold on, Sleepy is Ryan Dickson, right?
A: I think. Big kind of fat youngster?
Q: Yeah, okay continue.
A: So, I see him coming out of visitation. There are two guards beside him and a group of people behind him. He was chained up. I noticed there was about five or six guards up by where the van was waiting and they were shaking hands, laughing and giving high fives to each other. When they saw Sleepy coming down the side walk they sort of straightened up. Then, I noticed in the entrance area where the other building is, there were five or six guards dressed up in riot gear kind of hiding. My first thought was, crap, they're going to jump him, but they waited until he passed that area and then came out marching behind. I also noticed a lady with the camera. I think they thought maybe he would try to lash out or fight, but Jesus, he was chained up.
Q: So, he walked to the van. He didn't refuse or fight? You didn't see him in a wheel chair?
A: No, no, he was walking. He was very dignified.
Q: Okay, so they walk him down the side walk, there's all these people -
A: Yeah, even people in street clothes.
Q: So, they load him into the van that will drive him to Huntsville to be killed. What happened after he drove away?
A: Man, Randy it really upset me. I've never been this close to the face of death, but what made me feel so sick is seeing then hug and high five and laugh and celebrate. I even saw two guards bump chests.
Q: C‟mon Artie, you're embellishing things now.
A: No! I swear on the Lady Guadalupe, it's true.
Q: How did this make you feel, Artie? How did you feel after this about the death penalty?
A: Randy, up until now I was comfortable. I felt safe. I didn‟t think I would ever face this, but I've seen it now. It's very real to me. I prayed to the Lord and asked him for forgiveness. This has changed me.
After we finished talking I went on to tell him of the very first time I witnessed the same thing in the August of 2005. It truly is life changing stuff. I still can't wrap my head around the thought of seeing people celebrate a man's death. It's very disturbing.
Well, I'm probably going to be moved in a short while, so I need to go ahead and get ready. I've been doing this interview and time got away from me.
May 3rd, 2007
I had the first of a two day set of visits with my friend, David. It's always great seeing him. I've known him for so long now; he really has become a mentor, a friend, and family. We're from two different generations but he's great. Without him I'd have never really pursued writing. Thankfully, it was quite quiet down in visitation, so it was a really lovely visit. When I returned I took a nap and then went to recreation.
Geeze. Thursday night I can't believe the day has come to an end. I can't believe we're a week into May. This life feels like a space vacuum in a worm hold in a time warp. It definitely is slow and fast at the same time. Well, I've gotta wash some clothes before I crash out. I only plan on staying up until about 11:00 P.M. and then I'm going to get some much needed sleep. I am so pooped.
May 4th, 2007
Got up at 5:55am this morning. I had to shave before I went to recreation and my visit with my friend. I got dressed and went outside. It was very humid and wet from the storm we had last night.
About an hour and forty five minutes later two guards showed up to take me to my visit. My visit went well and is always nice to see David. We talked about all sorts of stuff. When I got back after the visit I got my shower and took a nap getting back up at 4:00pm. Then dinner came - nothing spectacular; a hot dog bun 2 slices of cheese and black eyed peas. How delicious.
There's a big growing rumor we may be getting T.V.s on death row. The Texas state legislators are supposed to have voted on a bill. I have mixed feelings about this. It's a good control device and would most definitely make the guards' workload work much easier, but then I've gone almost 6 years without one…I'd hate to turn into a zombie and get side tracked from things such as legal work, writing, etc. I think it would be easy to waste away my life on the boob tube. Then again, I do like movies so…Guess we'll find out eventually how true the rumor is.
As I'm writing this it's 7:26pm, and I'm listening to some electronic music on KTRU Rice University. The sun is setting and my cell light is off. I feel like I'm writing like they did in the old days, racing the sun. I'm a dork, I know. I'll turn my light on if I get some mail.
Not much else to do but enjoy this music, relax and think.
May 7th, 2007
A bright and beautiful day! I just talked to a guard to see if I could get outside and he said he'd keep me on the waiting list. I hope to get out and get some sun! It looks wonderful out there.
I slept so-so. I woke up in the middle of the night, because my neighbor had a seizure and banged his head on the toilet. Everyone was yelling for a guard, because we all heard this loud crack sound. Then, we heard no response. I knocked on the wall and hollered to see if he was okay and nothing. Everyone freaked out. So, fortunately a guard came pretty quickly. Usually it takes forever to get their attention and then once you do you spend fifteen minutes arguing how important the matter is before they actually come to the section. They called a sergeant and some nurses and helped him out. When he came back from the infirmary he had a huge knot on his head. That's when we found out it was just a seizure. All of the guys on this section asked if he was okay and a few guys kept checking on him the rest of the night. Moments like this are what cement me to the belief that there are some really good guys back here. Humans.
I was just thinking about a time when I was in general population and watched a fight break out over cartoons. It was the whackiest thing I'd ever seen up to that point. I had just been coming off of work. At the time I was working on what was called 8 building where they housed Closed Custody inmates. Mostly youngsters who were rowdy and fought a lot. They were too rough to be out in general population so they were confined to a building where they were allowed to move around and have some privileges, but everything was restricted. I hated the job. When I went back to my pod after a long day of crap I expected to walk into the pod, sit down and watch some cartoons and then take a shower and nap. Instead a few young black guys were arguing with a few older black guys. In prison, generally the black guys controlled what was on the T.V. for majority purposes. If you were white you pretty much watched whatever was on, though every now and then if a sport or a program that they watched wasn't on, you could catch something you wanted to watch. I like cartoons so it wasn't a problem for me.
I sat down on a bench expecting to see some cartoons and instead watched a heated argument over whether Oprah should be on, or Pokemon - it might've been Digimon - it was one of them. The voices grew louder and the debate hotter when someone took a swing at another and the next thing I saw was a huge fight amongst a bunch of guys arguing over cartoons or Oprah! I couldn't believe what I was seeing. All I could think about was how odd it was to see a bunch of so called “Hardened Criminals” fighting over a show geared towards females and a show for kids. I think that's when I realized that I'd stepped into another dimension. Prison is stranger than fiction.
Anyway, some guards ran into the day room and the fight stopped instantly. I got up went to my cell and took a shower. When I came back from the shower I saw that instead of Pokeman or Oprah, the show Bay Watch was on. Seems peace was made over scantily clad women running down a beach. Who would've thought Pamela Anderson would prevent a major riot from breaking out?
May 8th, 2007
I'm sitting here waiting to be moved. I'm already packed up and the guards told me I was going back to B-pod. I was just there last week. I don't really mind. It's not the best of pods, but you do with where they take you.
Today has been long and boring. I went outside at six in the morning and exercised, came in, goofed around, read, and not much else. I didn't feel like doing anything. Yesterday afternoon I was fortunate enough to get out in the sun and be out by myself. It was nice getting to a place where I could just think and enjoy the sunshine without worrying about my thoughts being in a shouting match with all the noise around me. It was peaceful. Plus, I got a little burn which I needed, cause right now I'm deathly pale. I can't really tan, but I can get enough color so I don't look like the living dead (oh, wait I AM the living dead. My bad.) I hope to get my mail tonight before I leave. I have a sneaking suspicion that some of my mail is being tossed when I get moved. I can't prove it, but too much stuff has come up missing.
June 1st, 2007
You're probably wondering what happened to most of the month of May...Well, I decided to take a month off from every type of writing possible except writing to my friends and such. It's easy to get burned out when all your day consists of writing and reading...But I'm back for whatever it's worth, and I'll try to find something useful to write about until I get burned out again. Haha.
I went on a month long losing streak at playing basketball, then in the last weeks I went on a great winning streak finally finding my groove and effectively kicked butt. I have been fortunate enough to get out in the sun and finally bring some color to my pastey white skin...Then, the great ending to the month came two weeks ago, from my attorney who brought some very great news..It really looks like I might get a retrial. It all comes down to the Court Of Criminal Appeals, but we think the odds are in my favor. I'm excited and scared at the possibilities the future holds. Although, once again I have to deal with the emotional aspects of what a new trial or even new sentencing phase would bring. First, and most importantly old wounds of the victim's family will be torn open and I hate that they have to suffer anymore. It bothers me a lot. I wish for some sense of finality of things for them, just as much as anyone else would, but I'm not a killer, so...I just wish none of this mess would've ever happened. If only I had a time machine…Of course, I'll have to deal with the personal attacks on my character, but I can put up with it. Who knows what the future holds. Ultimately my fate is in the hands of G-d...
Today is Friday and it's been slow. I've mostly been reading a book called Target, a thriller, and listening to the radio. I figured I would start my journal back up and get back in the habit of things...
Peace and Love.
June 2nd, 2007
Saturday. Usually these are the most boring days on earth, but somehow I've been able to keep motivated. I got up this morning and went to recreation and exercised. I normally don't exercise on Saturdays, but I wanted to and it felt good. I've spent most of the rest of the day catching up on letters.
The sun is beginning to set outside and it looks quite gorgeous. One thing I really miss on weekends and especially in the summer are those wonderful sunsets where you are out in the front or back yard with family or a friend and that feeling of the cooling air kissing your cheeks, colors playing across the sky..I remember being in our swimming pool not long after dad would serve dinner. The sun going down..A lot of times I'd pass up going outside to swim to stay in and watch T.V. I think my parents took it as me being anti social, but the truth is, we weren't allowed to watch horror movies or shows in our house, and Tales From The Crypt would come on every Saturday night at 7:00pm, so, all the times I'd pass up going swimming, I'd be sneaking around to watch that show. I was just being a typical teenager, trying to be sly. I look back now, though and really regret not spending that time with my family. I think if teenagers really understood how fleeting that time being with mom and dad is, maybe they would spend more time with them. I really miss mom and dad right now, as the sun's sinking shadow plays across the walls of my cell.
If only youth and summer could last forever.
Peace and Love.
June 3rd, 2007
Another day comes to a close...It's been oddly quiet today, so I can gather it will be chaos tonight on this pod (I'm on ad-seg and it's been nuts!).
Right now Pink Floyd's “Wish You Were Here” is playing. I don‟t know, but the last month or so I've been really getting into some classic rock. I'm not into the Southern rock sound, but a lot of the British classics are great. I'm really, really starting to like everything The Beatles did. Mom was a huge fan - I can see why.
Anyways, it's been a slow dull week and I'm just checking in.
Peace and Love!
June 4th, 2007
I swear, I've got some bad luck! I just came in from recreation and I'm getting over the effects of being gassed. I've got a killer headache right now!
I went to recreation at 6:30am, and things were going fine until the guy in the next day room to mine decides to talk trash to the guards. The guards call a ranking officer to the pod to chill him out, he continues to make threats and is cussing the Sergeant out. They call the riot team, gas him and drag him out of the day room. Well, I'm stuck like chuck. I'm just as exposed to the gas as he is, because the dayrooms are open spaces. I begin to cough, gag, sneeze, my nose was running like a busted faucet...Why does that always seem to happen when I'm around? Everywhere I go something happens where gas is used and I'm always right in the mix.
Well, last night in my closing entries I was talking about how I was starting to really get into the Beatles, and oddly enough, in commemoration of the Fortieth Anniversary of the album “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band” they played the album in it's entirety. I listened to it and was completely blown away. I've heard several of the songs over the years, but to hear it all uncut, the way it was supposed to be heard...Wow. The song that really blew my mind was “Within You Without You” awesome in sound and lyrics. I really couldn't believe how good the album was. Actually, last night was an unbelievably good night for music. I heard a lot of songs I hadn‟t heard in a while. Nights like that make me miss having a CD player.
I don't have much planned for the rest of the day. I need to do some reading. Maybe a little writing. It's hot right now though, but I'm glad the sun is out. Too bad I can't get outside and some sunshine. Tomorrow is the outside day for this section. Maybe I'll get lucky.
Peace and Love.
June 28th, 2007
Last night I was moved to E-pod. It seems - no, it is a fact - that I'm here every other week. I mean, I think it kind of defeats the purpose that if I and others who are 'escape risks', they keep moving me to the same pod and almost in the exact cell location...I admit, I don't like it down here, but I'll make the best of it. Why not? Besides, I can get art work, home made cards; all sorts of arts and crafts dirt cheap down here. Might as well take advantage. A small price to pay for lack of sleep. Haha.
Peace and Love.
June 29th, 2007
I had a feeling I was going to have an attorney visit this morning, so I hurried up and shaved just incase. When I finished shaving commissary came. I didn't get anything, but my neighbor was kind enough to get an ice cream for me. As I'm enjoying that, two guards showed up and said I had a legal visit. I would have to enjoy the melted remains at a later time. Anyways, my lawyer didn't have anything to report; everything is sitting and waiting, and while we wait for a definite answer on my appeals, they are just building up evidence and support in my favor. In fact, another one of my co-defendants had just signed another affidavit in my favor saying I wasn't a shooter. This means a lot to me, as none of my co-defendants really likes me, so...I don't think anyone can say, "Oh, they just want to see someone get off..." Trust me, if a couple of them could kill me personally, they probably would.
Anyways, with them was an intern, and we talked for a bit...just general things like what I'm into etc. It was nice to get out of the cell for a bit. I'm slacking on reading this week. I've been wanting to start this book called "The Grays", but the cover looks creepy. It has this huge bug eyed alien head... aliens freak me out. I'll start it later, I'm sure. It's been raining off and on for forever and it's getting cold. Nobody wants to play any ball and I really need to get my cardio going. I've been doing good on my normal conditioning, but I need to run.
Peace and Love.
June 30th, 2007
I don't know, why, but I feel so drained today… I don't feel depressed, just tired. Worn out. Maybe tomorrow I'll feel better.
July 1st, 2007
It's Sunday, and for a change it's sunny and bright. I woke up feeling better than yesterday and got my workout knocked out. Now I just have to do laundry and catch up on a letter or two. Then, I want to read, I have to read…
July 2nd, 2007
Wow. It's already July. I just can't believe it. I thought yesterday was still June, so I changed my calendar today and thought, damn…it's July. Crazy how the time is flying!
It's been raining today, which stinks. The rain moved in yesterday afternoon...I think everyone was bummed. It seems to not want to let up. I did start that book "The Grays" last night and finished it just awhile ago. I thought (for a thriller) it was quite good. The writing was very impressive. Plus, it was genuinely freaky. For the longest time I couldn't figure out if the aliens were benign or not, as they were doing some creepy things to their abductees, but it turns out they never intended harm humans. The author is Whitley Streiber, who, oddly enough claims to be a real life abductee. He wrote a book on it, called "Communion" I remember seeing the movie when I was 13 or 14, and it scared the crap out of me. That was in the days I was convinced aliens were coming to earth. Haha.
Not much has really happened today. It's amazing how a day will shoot by when you're reading a good book. Now it's time to get some sleep. Or try to anyway.
Peace and Love.
July 3rd, 2007
It was complete madness yesterday and today. People were screaming and yelling, banging and beating. Thank God I've just been told to pack my things up and get ready for a move. I'm ready to go.
July 4th, 2007
Fourth of July and it's raining. Not only that, but the cell I've been moved to has a building behind me, so it'll be the first year since I've been on Death Row that I'll miss the fireworks. Kind of sucks. I've felt drained today, but managed to exercise anyways. I don't want to stop, 'cause if I miss one day, other than my rest day, I'll quit. I don't want to do that. I have to stay on it. Not much else to say. Nothing on my mind.
July 5th, 2007
I went outside in the rain today; it was okay. Now I'm waiting on a shower. It's really hot and humid today, so everyone feels lethargic. Lunch was good...had a burrito and Spanish rice. If they don't come to do showers soon, I'm going to have to bust out the 'hose'. It's my new solution to when they sit on their butts. I hook this hollow coax cable to my sink and voila! Instant shower, and it's better than a bird bath. The only down side is having to clean up a lot of water off of the floor. Oh well.
July 6th, 2007
Man, I am sick of this rain. It’s really getting out of hand. The sun will come out for an hour and then it’ll go right back to storming. I can’t play any basketball and I really need to jog. Running around in circles in the dayroom is so tiresome and boring. Playing basketball makes it a little livelier.
My neighbor pulled his back and has been trying to get to medical all day long. The guards keep ignoring his complaints and he has turned in about three medical requests, but they keep giving him the run-around. It has me a little aggravated that they don’t want to even look at him. He had to refuse his shower because he can barely walk or stand. So it’s obvious he’s not faking it. The good thing is that the inmates on one row have all pulled together to help him out. We rotate heating up water with our hot pots and then pour it into bottles to send down to him so he can put it on his back. It’s all we can do, but it’s cool that we’ve all come together to help him out. One guy had a box of ibuprofen that he gave to him also.
There’s not a lot going on today. It’s been pretty boring. I was going to talk to one of my friends, Big-Foot, but when I went to his section to recreate he was on another section recreating. D’oh! So much for that. We usually talk politics and discuss things about the death penalty and how to get people motivated in speaking out against it.
Tonight I’ll listen to the movie Robo Cop. I haven’t seen the movie in ages, but it was a favorite as a kid. I remember when Wesley and I had asked our mom if we could watch it; half expecting her to say "no", I picked up the video at Block Buster and took it to mom. "Mom, can we watch this?" She looked at it for a second and read the box. "It’s pretty violent", she said. "I don’t know". I protested "But Mom! It’s not a scary movie. You said you only didn’t want us to watch scary movies. Please, Mom?" And then she said "I want to watch it first. If it’s not too bad I’ll let you watch it". Wesley and I both uttered a very excited "YES!"
This weekend I plan on listening to the Live Earth concerts. I hope they are good.
Peace and love.
July 7th, 2007
It’s Saturday! And finally we have some sustaining sunshine. Woohoo! I woke up with the sunlight pouring into my cell, as if it were some heavenly glow, and thought, "What’s this?" It hasn’t gone away yet.
We had a little excitement earlier...Yesterday I wrote about how my neighbor was having back problems. Well, medical keeps refusing to see him and one of the inmates was fed up, so as he was returning from the shower he refused to return to his cell. He demanded that a sergeant come and talk to him. When the sergeant showed up he was huffing and puffing, yelling, "Goddammit, it better be good or your ass is going to Level 2!" The inmate explained that my neighbor has been having back problems and can barely walk. He needs medical attention. Get him help and I’ll go back to my cell.
Of course the inmate was risking disciplinary action for this guy, which I think all of us, including the sergeant thought was very honorable. The sergeant goes to my neighbor’s cell and asks what his problem is. They talk for a bit and the sergeant calls for a wheel-chair and they take him to medical. He hasn’t been back, but the guard said that he had a herniated disc. Yep. So the problem was serious after all and medical kept refusing him, saying he was faking it. Nice, huh?
Not much has happened since, and my neighbor hasn’t returned, so I can only guess he’ll probably be going to Galveston Medical Center. He’ll probably be gone for a while.
I’ll spend the rest of the day reading.
July 8th, 2007
Today was extremely boring. I woke up, exercised, did laundry, listened to the radio, and then some movies on TV (radio). It had been sunny all day, but it’s storming again. Figures. Well, at least this week I can look forward to seeing my friend, David, this weekend and next Monday and Tuesday.
July 9th, 2007
Today started off with the surprise of a lockdown...Well, it wasn’t necessarily a surprise as much as everyone was waiting for it to come. Thank God I stocked up on stamps a few weeks ago because it means no one will be able to go to the store for at least two-and-a-half weeks. Our pod was supposed to go last night, but due to the lockdown it was cancelled.
Basically on a lockdown the guards use the time to thoroughly search through your belongings for contraband, and to make sure you don’t have excess property. All of your personal belongings have to fit in a wooden box; anything that doesn’t fit is confiscated. For meals we are given sack lunches; no hot meals, no vegetables - just PB&J for me. Showers are only allowed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Oddly enough today they weren’t going to give us our shower but everyone began to raise hell.
I didn’t get much sleep last night at all so I spent today catching up. I had stayed up to listen to a movie until 1:00am, and then I was awakened by two female guards who were yelling, giggling, and being rowdy all night. They were horse-playing, which excited some of the inmates, and cat-calls and "Oh, yeah baby!" followed.
Right now things are really quiet. We’re just waiting on mail and I’m currently on hot water bottle duty for my neighbor and his back. We (his neighbors) have been rotating duties. My cell is a mess tonight because I’m going through things I want to keep and throw away for my turn on the cell search. Plus, I’ll more than likely be moved tomorrow. Got to whittle junk down.
Peace and love.
July 10th, 2007
It has been one hot day. I think it has hit about 97 degrees. I’ve got my fan on but it’s really just pushing hot air around. I’m listening to "The Four O’clock Flashback" on The Buzz and the DJ just announced The Cure’s latest album will be out in October. Apparently Robert Smith is fighting with his record label because he wants the album to be sold as a double disc at a relatively cheap price and the label is saying, "Nope." So it’ll probably be compiled on one disc. It’s being rumored as the best Cure album in a long time. I can’t wait to hear the first single.
Well, it’s the second day of the lockdown and I slept in until 10:00 A.M. I stayed up listening to South Park and went to sleep at 2:00am. Not too bad. At noon I exercised and then took a "shower". I swear this hose I have is a gift from God. After all that I cleaned my cell and now I’m just waiting to see if I get moved or not. Sometimes on a lockdown they won’t do any moves, but it’s so early it’s quite possible I will get moved.
Rumors have it A-Pod is being searched right now. That means B-Pod will be next (I’m currently on B-Pod). Nothing else to write about today. I’m about to pick up a book and read for a bit as I wait for my lunch sack and to see if I’ll be moved.
Didn’t get moved but we did get a hot dinner which surprised the hell out of all of us.
July 11th, 2007
"How Are Things on the West Coast?" by Interpol Man. I cannot get this song out of my head. It’s awesome!
Well, it’s been another very hot day and I’ve been extremely bored. They were supposed to shake down this pod today, but some ranking officer decided to change things up. I’m guessing that I won’t be moved until after the shakedown. If I don’t get moved tonight that’ll be a safe assumption.
Today I’ve been so bored that I actually spent it listening to TV shows like The View and Judge Hatchet and Judge Joe Brown. You’ve gotta be careful with programs like that because it can be very addictive. Mind rot is what I like to call them, but damn they’re like crack! What is it about the human psyche that loves to watch a train wreck, or to see other people air their own private problems (like me and my journal!)? Oh and that blonde on the view, she’s an idiot! She claims to be Republican conservative but can’t even form an educated opinion of her own views. It was like listening to a shiatsu yap away. So annoying. Still…I listened. This is what the lockdown has reduced me to. If I had a bowl full of ice cream it would be complete. Next thing you know I’ll be listening to the soap operas. Stay here, Randy. Don’t turn to the dark side.
Peace and love.
July 12th, 2007
It’s Thursday and feels like eternity. Lord, the boredom... If this is purgatory then I repent…
July 13th, 2007
Today has been slow but they’ve begun to cell search our pod. If all goes fast we should have our section (I’m on F-Section) searched tomorrow. Then we can all relax. I’ve been spending most of my day going through my property and throwing away things of non-importance.
July 14th, 2007
Well it has been an interesting day indeed. All cell searches have been halted due to two uses of force. Apparently the guards confiscated two radios so the inmates who the radios belonged to - I was implicated in a relationship with one of the radios, but I pleaded the fifth - got mad and refused to return to their cells. Well, we were packed up and ready to go but then it all stopped. Now we’re set for Sunday.
The best part of today was when I was called out for a Saturday night visit to see a friend. I wasn’t sure if he’d be able to show up as he would be flying in today, so it was a nice surprise.
As I write this my neighbor is calling me to talk, so I’ll see what he’s up to. His back is feeling a bit better but he’s still in pain.
Peace and love.
July 15th, 2007
Jeez, am I tired. I talked all night until 3:00am, then went to sleep only to have a sergeant wake me up at 6:00am..."Get up, get your shit packed. Everything comes out of your cell!" You know how when you don’t get enough sleep you can be a bit delirious? I started acting goofy along with my neighbor, so as they were pulling guys out of their cells he began to tease and poke fun at them. Then I started to go into graphic description of the main kinds of diarrhea you can get eating nothing but cheese, bread, peanut butter and raisins. I said to one of the guards, "You ever had bone rattling diarrhea? The kind of shits where ain’t nothin’ coming out. It’s like the dry heaves in reverse!" I just went on and on…Talk about getting some crazy looks.
I fared well in the search and spent the rest of the day doing laundry and listening to the radio. I’ve got to get up at 6:00am tomorrow for a visit with my friend so I’m about to crash out.
Peace and love!
July 16th, 2007
Today was a good day. I got up, exercised and we had showers. It was getting close to 8:00am and my friend was about to show up, so I asked a guy if I could skip in front of him for a shower. He said it was cool so when the guards came I went ahead. While I was in the shower the visit escort came to pull me out. It was a nice visit. My friend, David, is a remarkable man - compassionate, loyal and a mentor. As Jewish folks would call him, a Mensch. He’s family to me and I love him dearly.
Peace and love!
July 17th, 2007
I am so exhausted. I’ll probably be going to bed early tonight. I had a really great visit today with a friend, but it seemed to go by really fast...I got back to my cell around one in the afternoon, and took a nap. Then a huge thunder storm hit and woke me up. Later I listened to a show called "Democracy Now" and they were talking about the death penalty and recently found some execution audio recordings from Georgia. They were really disgusting and disturbing, but I think very important to hear. I want to see if I can get the audio on my site or put on a Youtube video. But you can go to soundportrait.org and look up Georgia execution tapes and probably listen to the audio there.
Not much else to write about. I need to get these entries out and posted.
July 18th, 2007
It’s been a nice, warm and quiet day. I got out of bed at nine in the morning and drank what I hope is my very last cup of coffee because I ran out and I really want to give up caffeine. Then I began to go through print-outs of my journal over the past two years. I have an idea of turning the best entries and some of my stories into a book, so that’s my project. I organized about half of it. Then, once I complete that and decide what I where I want to go direction-wise, I’ll edit, and hopefully stitch together something interesting. I’m really excited about that.
Right now, as I write this, I’m listening to Dr. Phil because nothing good is on the radio. It’s been nice today but so slow. I need to pick up a book, but I’m not in a reading mood today.
July 19th, 2007
A funny thing happened tonight. My neighbor gave me a jalapeno pepper and we were so hungry we decided to eat them as is. So, I take the first bite and the sucker is hot! As I take each bite I begin to moan, "Ohhh! Ahhh! Shit! Ohhh!" My mouth was on fire. So I keep making these moans and groans of pain, unaware that it could sound erotic to others nearby. Finally my neighbor says, "Jesus, Randy, what are you doing over there - wait, I don’t want to know!" I start to laugh uncontrollably and say, "Man, that sucker is hot! I can’t help it!" He says, "Yeah, well, it sounds like you’re doing some kinky stuff with that pepper!" We laughed so hard...
July 20th, 2007
Today I was surprised to be told that I was being moved, but apparently the lock down is over. So I had to pack it up. The new cell was by far the nastiest cell I’d ever been moved to. It was horrible. I spent two-and-a-half hours scrubbing and cleaning. I was so pissed, and then afterwards I was so dirty that I had to rinse off with my hose. Other than that the pod is an okay pod.
It’s been raining the past two days. This rain is starting to get to Biblical proportions. It’s really crazy. Can we please get a long stretch of sunshine, God? Sheesh.
Peace and love!
July 21st, 2007
We are off lock down! Woo-hoo! I had a really good workout today, it’s finally real sunny and soon I’ll be going to recreation. Finally a Saturday that hasn’t been so boring.
Peace and love!
July 23rd, 2007
Today has been pretty good. After a month and a half I finally got some sunshine and played basketball, although we had a minor incident as we were playing. Apparently the outside recreation yard next to us had a use of force incident because as we were playing we were hit with a burst of riot gas. It took the breath right out of me and I hit the concrete on my knees gagging and choking. Then our skin and eyes burned. This lasted for about 20 seconds and I thought I was going to puke and then it passed. It took us about ten minutes to recuperate and we started playing ball again. I won seven games to six.
I was at a huge disadvantage, too. I started off losing four games in a row because the goal I was shooting at was about four feet higher than my opponent’s goal. Then I was out of practice and had done a workout about an hour before I played so my arms were worn out. Still, I came back and it was good to run. I need a good cardio plan and playing speed ball is the best there is because you play in bursts or sprints. Even if I can’t find someone to play ball with I’m going to start jogging from now on.
Right now as I write this I’m waiting on a shower…and dinner. I’m hungry as a horse...Well, so much for a shower any time soon! The meal cart just showed up. It’s a big metal hotbox on wheels that they plug into an outlet near the control center and then load blue cafeteria style trays into a food carrier that holds the trays - one carrier for each floor on a section. They do give us juice or tea each meal also. It’s not the best tasting stuff, but when it’s 95 degrees outside and just as hot in the cells, cold juice or tea is delicious no matter how nasty.
I think I’m going to bust out my homemade shower and wash off in my cell. I do not like sitting around in my filth and sweat.
July 24th, 2007
Not entirely a boring day...I woke up a little after 8:00am, and exercised. Shortly before 10:30am, the guards stopped recreation to serve lunch. When they started to load the tray carrier they realized the food was cold so they had to return the food cart back to the kitchen. They brought a new cart back and that cart was also cold. So the guards say, "Well, maybe it just needs to heat up a bit. Thirty minutes later the food is still cold. One guard replies, "Damn, this cart is broken too! I get one of the guard’s attention and say "Maybe it’s the outlet that’s not working." Of course he ignores me. They wait longer to see if the food will somehow magically warm itself up.
At this time it’s inching up on 1:00pm. Kicks on cells doors and calls of "Feed us! We’re hungry!" erupt all over the pod. A sergeant comes onto the pod to investigate the noise and after he learns that we’ve not been fed, he starts yelling at the guards. It was pretty crazy. The guards take off with the food cart and then disappear for about thirty minutes. Now everyone is super mad. Dudes are cussing, screaming, yelling. The sergeant comes back down and says, "Jesus Christ! Where are my goddamn officers at?"
Finally lunch is served at 2:00pm or so. All that mess for some burritos! Sheesh. Dinner came at around 4:30 P.M. so lunch was like an appetizer.
Right now I’m sitting here waiting to see if I will be moved or not. I was listening to a news report earlier on how President Bush keeps on saying Iraq is the focus of "The War on Terror." He keeps bringing up al Qaeda in Iraq and how we must fight them to win and I’m thinking, "Geeze, al Qaeda wasn’t in Iraq until we tore the country up. Now it’s the perfect place for a training ground. Bush can’t be that naïve, can he?" It’s pretty disturbing to think about. I remember listening to an interview on PBS and the Charlie Rose Show, and they had an Iraqi official on at the time of the Virginia Tech shootings. He said, "Today you mourn students killed at Virginia Tech…Everyday is Virginia Tech for my people. Very sobering words that fall upon deaf ears.
Peace and love.
July 25th, 2007
Ever since I’ve run out of coffee and decided not to drink it anymore (for like the hundredth time, I know…) my energy level has rocketed sky high. I’ve also been having some weird dreams. I just had a dream that took place in colonial times and I was dressed up like an Indian. The scenery was very similar to that in the movie, "The Last of the Mohicans."
I remember being with a female and another guy who were in the same garb I was. Some of the dream is fuzzy now, but the part that got to me the most was somehow we’d gotten into trouble and one of us would have to talk to another tribe. The chief of the tribe wanted to talk to me specifically, but I was too afraid to go out for fear of being killed, so the female offered to go. Time passed and she never returned. We ran into a scout and asked the deal was. The scout told us that she had been killed and sacrificed herself for the sake of me because the chief was offended that I would not talk to him. The chief ordered my head be brought back to him and she stopped him, giving up her life. The other guy and I began to weep and I felt ashamed of myself. Then I woke up.
July 26th, 2007
(note: this entry contains harsh language)
I went outside at 6:30am and, boy, was it an interesting recreation. I’ve met quite a few characters since being imprisoned, but this guy I was out with today was definitely one of the top assholes I’ve ever met. I knew of him, but I’m the kind of person that doesn’t like to pass judgment or listen to others until I know for myself. So, I’m outside and I ask the guy, "Do you play basketball?" He says, "Yeah, I play nigger ball from time to time". I cringe at the comment and say, "Hey, I’d appreciate it if you don’t talk like that around me. He sort of grunts and we begin to play. I win every game and I can tell he’s getting aggravated so I actually throw a few games so he won’t quit on me. I like to play so that I can run. It’s more about the exercise and rush than it is about winning.
So, then after letting him win three games back to back he starts trash talking and says, "Yeah, it’s good to see you ain’t got no nigger in you. I was beginning to worry about you". I say, "Dude, chill out on the language, man. You’re starting to piss me off. We go back to playing and I start winning again. I mean, I demolish him, winning games 10-1- 10-2, 10-0. He gets mad and kicks the ball against the wall and then throws a temper tantrum, beating up the ball. I say, "You know, there are others who come out and play. You might not want to destroy the ball. He says, "Well, why the fuck should I care? Ain’t nobody gonna care about me". I then tell him that if he’s selfish like that what did he expect? The rest of the recreation time was spent listening to racial comments, etc. Then something funny happened. Two mail room ladies showed, one of them being a pretty black woman. He goes up to the glass and says, "Boys, look at that. I’d like to get me a shot of that pussy. I look at him in disbelief and say, "Man, you just spent almost two hours degrading black people and now you’re talking about how you want to have sex with a black woman? How does that make sense in your warped head?" He gets serious and says, "I like pussy". I say, "You’re an ass, man, a real ass. Needless to say I’ll never be going to recreation with this yahoo again.
The rest of the day I’ve just been reading and relaxing.
Peace and love.
July 27th, 2007
Well, I wasn’t moved today so I suppose the officials are trying to get a normal move schedule back on track, post lockdown. Tonight I received some really touching emails and it always moves me when I’ve convinced people to change their view on the death penalty. It brings a lot of hope to me because the fight isn’t about me. Odds are that I will get away from this place, but it doesn’t mean the fight is over for the rest of the men that sit here.
Right now I’m reading a book about the Innocence Project called Actual Innocence. It’s insane the number of people who are wrongly accused, from false testimony, mistaken witness identification, DNA, and all sorts of other errors, sometimes malicious, sometimes not. Other than that it’s been a dry day.
July 29th, 2007
Sunday. It’s sunny outside and I’m listening to the radio. Yesterday I pretty much spent reading. Today will be much of the same. Nothing to report or write about. I’m just wasting time ha-ha.
July 30th, 2007
Today shot right on by. I went to recreation at 6:30am into a hot and humid sunrise. It was a bit overcast, but as we began to play basketball, the skies cleared and came up a beautiful blue. But, man, did I sweat like a pig! My socks, shorts/boxers/t-shirt were drenched in a sticky, greasy sweat...yuck! Oh, and I got my butt beat down 15 games to five. I just couldn’t find any rhythm this morning.
When I was outside I was thinking about when I was a kid and I had a fascination (and fear) of aliens. It became an obsession at one point and one night my friend from the synagogue, Jason, and I, swore we saw something when I was sleeping over at his house. My parents became worried and sent me to a shrink after finding my detailed journal on my so-called "research". I admit, my imagination was beyond over-active in those days and things probably did get a little out of hand. Still, to this day, things like UFO’s fascinate me. I think it’s because as a human I want to believe — and do believe — that it’s just not us in this universe. It can’t be possible, and how boring it would be if we are the only ones? Who knows?
Guess I’ll spend the rest of the night reading.
July 31st, 2007
The last day of the month...This summer has gone by so fast. I heard a "Back to School" advertisement on the radio this morning and thought, wow! August is typically the hottest month in Texas, but it’s been such an odd summer - it seems to be starting late, and I wonder if it won’t be September and October that are the hot months.
I finished reading "Communion" this morning. I was surprised how well this abduction account was written. It’s a convincing argument, but we as humans have barely begun to figure ourselves out. I don’t think we could handle trying to figure out something like a sentient being more evolved and intelligent that ourselves. If they are here then I wish they would come and abduct my ass from here. Perform all the rectal exams you want! Ha-ha.
I haven’t been moved in about ten days now, so I’m expecting a guard to show up any minute to pack my stuff. Today I got on a couple of my fellow inmates' butts for joining the guards in teasing and aggravating my neighbor to the right of me. He is a bit mentally troubled, and has bouts of paranoia and bursts of anger. One guard kept antagonizing him all day and it was really irritating me. I do not like to see people picked on. I can tell my neighbor is close to an outburst and is agitated; I hear him shuffling his feet, pacing back and forth, murmuring inarticulate words. I tried to calm him down by giving him my cereal that was thrown in my cell at breakfast, and also a magazine. Still, every time the guard passed by he would make a comment.
About 30 minutes later the guard passes by again and my neighbor erupts: kicking his door, screaming profanities and so forth. Well, then other guards and inmates start cussing him out and such. So things chill down and I come to my door and address those who were putting down the troubled guy. I said, "You know, I don’t see how y’all justify belittling someone and having the same mentality as the guard. That’s why we have the problems we have now. No freakin’ unity. You see a guy down, you’re supposed to pick him up, not cuss him out and put him down. The dude didn’t do anything. He was quiet until the guard wired him up…"
Sometimes people forget where they are, as if we’re not all in the same boat. I live in a strange world. One moment I see kinder acts than one would see on the outside, another moment it’s "Lord of the Flies".