April 2018 - Randy Halprin

Randy Halprin
 "We tend to see a person in the moment, not as the journey they travelled to get here."  Kat Lehmann

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April 30th, 2018

I cannot believe it's the last day of April...Unbelievable how quickly the month went by. I was telling my investigator last Thursday, that these days can be something of a time paradox. A single day can drip by like a coffee machine...Slow, and insanely boring. But then I look at the calendar, and a week or a month has passed. Well, here's to a ton of hope and positive vibes for my appeal that will soon be filed. G-d be with me...

The day started with showers early this morning. I had planned on getting some exercise in before I went but I got trapped into a conversation with my neighbor. I don't like to be rude or standoffish, so if someone wants to talk, and unless I'm extremely busy or listening to a program that I don't want to miss, I'll lend an ear. Even though my neighbor can be soooooo negative, and a bit of an emotional vampire, I realize and understand that he just wants to vent, and get things off his chest. But man, does it take its toll on my spirit at times.  

I finished a final draft/rewrite of my memoir "Something So Pure"...I wanted to rewrite it for a long time! I initially wrote it for a writing contest the prison newspaper "The Echo", was running. I didn't win anything for the piece, but they did eventually publish it. David was particularly proud of it, but I felt it could have been better. I wanted to encapsulate the whole experience of the summer before I was adopted, along with the feeling of first being adopted. I have a ton of memories from that summer, and it could've been a longer piece, but again, I was aiming to capture a particular emotional experience, and how a five year old processes so many bad things in such a short amount of time. I hope I managed to do a better job of it. It was impossible for me to not burst into tears every time I arrive at the ending...if only because I wish I could've maintained that unconditional love, because obviously, at some point in my teens, it became conditional. It breaks my heart to write those words because it's NOT the case from my side of things. I love my parents as much as I loved them then, and it won't ever change. I don't know how it could.  

I've written before about how I wish I could reconcile with my family, and I won't ever give up on that wish. I envy guys back here whose parents never give up on them. I mean, just look at Thomas Whittaker! The dude had his mother and brother killed, his father lived, forgave him, and fought like hell to get him off of death row! That's purely unconditional love...

I'm often amazed by the love of parents, and the emotional turmoil they go through in supporting a guy in prison, or on death row. Even when the guys verbally and emotionally abuse them. I've sat, waiting to go back to my cell after a visit, and listened as a death row inmate verbally assaults a parent/girlfriend/wife...and I'm sitting there thinking, "Dude...I'd give anything in the world to have my parents sitting across from me!" I don't know...For now, I've got a lot of fond memories to hold on to, and I'm grateful for them.  

In other lock-down news, apparently this lock-down could go on for much longer than expected. I tend to take what some of these officers say with a grain of salt, because many of them just love sowing the seeds of mis-information, and keeping the inmates guessing. The rumor right now is that the lock-down status has started over to "Day 1/Week 1" due to some severe incidences in general population...There was the riots on 8 building that happened last week - we know that much is true. But the latest story going around is about 7 building...An inmate knocked out a lieutenant, took his pepper spray can that was attached to his belt, and as other guards rushed in to help the lieutenant, the inmate began gassing the other officers. So, they're going to punish the entire unit and keep us on lock-down. Again, I'm dubious though, because another officer just came by and said they only had one more pod to shake-down, and then we'd start getting some more privileges.

Besides, the Day 1/Week 1 thing is typically only used in a security lock-down. It could very well be the case for 7 and 8 building, but not for normal population, or death row. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

I was listening to American Family Radio earlier, just to see what their take is on the White House Correspondents' Dinner, and the controversy surrounding Michelle Wolf, the comedian who hosted the event. They and other conservatives are all up in arms about the roast she gave to some of Trump's staff, during the event. I just have to roll my eyes at their self-righteousness at times; the hypocrisy is unbelievable! I'm not saying that personal attacks are okay - on either side of the aisle. I think you can make a joke about a policy etc, but to go after the way a person looks is pushing it a bit far, especially if the remark is out of context with the way a person behaves. That being said, you can't then cry "foul" when Trump or his staff does it; he has been known to attack women and men based on their appearance!  And why is it okay for him to call people liars, when he and his staff lie on a regular basis, without blinking an eye?  Sigh....!

Anyway, they ranted and raved about her, and liberals in general...blah blah blah, but the President of the AFR then said this, "How has Trump ever said anything about a woman's appearance or the treatment of a woman, except in that video that was 12 years ago (emphasis on 12 years ago) and that's all liberals ever use? They can't give any other examples, and I invite someone to show me another example!" So...there you go liberals...he's just said show him some other examples, and I invite people to send Tim Wildman the proof he has asked for, via the AFR's website, or their FB page...Good thing I don't have access to the internet or I would be on that like white on rice...

Well, regardless...there's no need for anyone to be mean towards another person. We need to focus that energy on real change and solutions.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith...


April 29th, 2018

It's been a long and boring weekend...Saturday in particular! I know that one of the guys I live with over here kept getting into it with one of the guards - a fight that the guard picked for no reason. I told he guy to just ignore him and felt like the guard was baiting him into making a threat so he could then send him to F-Pod. It's an age old trick used by certain officers and I told him a story of a cell mate I had when I was in general population...

When I was in general population, breakfast was always super early; an officer would come around on the tank and yell, "Fall out for breakfast!" The doors would open up and you'd have to scramble out of a dead sleep, grab your clothes, grab your shoes, brush your teeth - often guys would run out of their cells, tooth brush still in their mouth! Shortly after the doors would open, another guard would come behind and slam them shut. If you were still in your cell when the doors closed, you missed breakfast.  

On this particular morning I had stayed in bed and my cell mate wandered out. He forgot to take his mail with him to drop in the mail box, his last chance to get something out before the mail room picked it up. When he returned from breakfast, I woke up to his voice calling my name from the day room (if I remember correctly, I was on the second tier, but it might've been the third tier - I'm a bit foggy on that part) and he said, "When the doors roll, throw my mail down to me!" I was like, "okay"...I grabbed it off our desk and then the doors were opened for the returning inmates.  

I dropped the letters down to him, he caught them, and started walking towards the sally port where a female officer stood making sure that inmates were returning to their cells. An exchange between the two went on and the female officer kept telling him to return to his cell. He kept saying, "C'mon! Let me drop my mail off real quick." But she wouldn't relent. My celly then tried to move around her and get out the door, and in the process he brushed against her...She grabbed her walkie talkie and called for a sergeant.  

The sergeant, a real smart ass tough guy, showed up and immediately began threatening my cell mate. I couldn't make out all of the exchange, but he was talking major trash about whooping my cell mate's ass and so on...He "escorted" my celly up the stairs and in front of the cell continued on..."You're a pussy. In fact, I think I'm going to find your mom and fuck her." My celly's face was beet red! He stopped, turned around and told the sergeant, "How about we catch the passive rec. yard and you'll see what kind of pussy I am." The passive rec. yard was a small secluded area where inmates could request to go to calm down or have a moment of solitude, but it was also used to arrange fights between inmates and inmates/officers.  

My celly had taken the bait...The second he said that to the sergeant, the sergeant grabbed his walkie talkie and said, "I've got an offender who just threatened a ranking officer. I need an escort to take him to lock-up." I was so angry at the exchange, but kept my mouth shut because I didn't want to end up in lock-up as well. But it was total BS.  

So, in retelling this story to the guy that is over here with me, I just said, don't take the bait. It's obvious he wants no fight with you, but the second you threaten him, he's going to send you to F-Pod. Swallow your pride and let it go.

I can understand how hard it is to do that...To be poked and prodded, and know that no matter how you react, you're going to lose. Acting out in violence does nothing to solve the problem, and it only justifies some of society's misconceptions about death row inmates being "animals". As for getting into it "tit for tat"...well, verbal spats often backfire as well, so you end up losing that way too. It's one thing to voice your opinion on a wrong doing (especially the mistreatment of another) and I could easily justify that within myself if I were to get sent to F-Pod. But just screaming, and cussing someone out without any clear reason or justification, is stupid and pointless...Even if the other person starts it.   

Well, eventually everything calmed down, and I spent a good part of the afternoon staring out the back window of my cell. I'll be honest, I've got a crappy view. A-Pod, and its death watch section, is directly behind my cell. If I look to the left of me I can see a bit of open space, but mostly my view is a sliver of the sky, and a patch of grass, but because the unit is on lock-down the grass hasn't been mowed, and there's some waist high weeds and wild flowers popping up everywhere. As I was watching the weeds (that I could argue have a beauty within themselves) gently swaying in the spring breeze, I noticed a bee flying around, then another, and another...They were bouncing between the weeds and wild flowers, obviously in search of pollen. I was mesmerised. Now, a bee will send me running off like a wild man and screaming the high pitched scream of a three year old girl, but I couldn't help but imagine laying in that patch of grass and just letting them buzz around me. I wanted to feel that spring breeze and feel the tickle of the tall weeds as they brush against me. I desperately wanted to be in that patch of grass and let the world pass me by...  

Today is Sunday, and I woke up at 6am to listen to a program on NPR called "On Being with Krista Tippett". It's a really good show and each program touches on various degrees of spirituality, science, life, and how it all affects us a human beings. Today's topic was about the concept of time and how time means something different to each of us, and how it moves at varying degrees of measurement for each of us. I thought it was a great show today.  

Tomorrow will mark a week to go until my plea to the 5th Circuit for a COA (Certificate of Appealability) is due, and I enter the week with a bit of anxiety. I won't get another extension so this is it...this is our shot. After that, who knows?...So yeah, it's natural to feel anxious, scared even. And yet, I also enter the week with a ton of hope, and the feeling that everything is going to work out exactly how it should (the "how it should" is open to interpretation, but whatever the universe wants is what it will be...). I have more hope than ever before, and I don't feel the same level of anxiety that I did months ago. I think I can say that my life has been more hopeful, more positive in the past few months, and more things have happened to boost those feelings of hope and positivity than I have had in years...Being in love helps as well...Things feel right at present, and I want to believe that the universe does indeed, have my back.  

Courage. Strength. Hope, and Faith...


April 26th, 2018

Yesterday was pretty non-eventful and I didn't have anything to really write about. Though, I can say that I was really impressed with the kindness of one of the guards working...We've got a mentally ill guy on our section, and on Tuesday we had to argue with the guards that were working, to get him some clothes and necessity items; he had just come back from the State Psychiatric Unit, and he had absolutely nothing, except the underwear he was standing up in! Well, we were all pretty disgusted with the attitude of the officers and their indifference to his situation. It was really cold on the section, and they had the AC cranked all the way up...So, logic tells me that if we're all cold, and the officers are complaining it's too cold, well, the mentally ill guy had to have been freezing. We finally got him what he needed and assumed he had gotten his bed sheets as well, but unfortunately he didn't get them! Yesterday, we learned that he'd gone the whole night without any sheets...It's disgusting...!

So, when we asked one of the officers to help him, we expected another battle, but she didn't even hesitate. She left the pod immediately and went to get the man some sheets. When she returned, I said, "You're a good person. Better than most of these people you work with."

Last night I received a Jpay saying I'd be getting a legal visit from one of the investigators that works in the office that is currently representing me, so I waited all day for that and finally made it out to the visitation building around 4pm. It was nice to converse for a little bit, and get out of the cell, but we both observed how they had the AC cranked up all the way out there. It was like a freezer! Still, being able to walk outside for a few minutes (between buildings) was refreshing...It felt great! The sky was crystal clear, the grass was green...Although I didn't see any birds pecking away at the grass like I did last time...

Everything else has been fairly typical for a lock-down. I am loving the super-quiet mornings. Getting up, praying/reading my daily stoic and thinking for a bit...then exercising, taking a bird bath out of my sink (we're only getting three showers a week during the lock-down) and setting upon the day.  

Courage. Faith. Strength. And hope...


April 24th, 2018

Well, we're six days into the lock-down and we have another couple of weeks to go. I'm not exactly sure what the reason is behind it, but for the past couple of days things have been a bit more tense between the Officers and the inmates. Just a few seconds ago, my neighbour got into a cussing match with the Sergeant...It started with my neighbor asking if he could get an extra sheet to cover up with; they took our jackets and blankets in the shakedown on Friday, and it's been getting really cold at night, even if the days are in the 80s. But with the air conditioning on, it feels downright frigid all throughout the day because the building isn't warming up.  

So, the sergeant made a smart assed comment to my neighbor, and my neighbor started cussing at him, and it went on for like five minutes right by my cell. Very uncomfortable! Earlier, I had a guard start threatening me with a disciplinary because I cracked a joke. Okay, granted, I was being sarcastic...but she was coming through screaming at everyone about throwing their trash out the sides of their doors 'cause she was tired of picking it up. I said, "Job security!" I thought it was funny, but apparently she didn't because the response I got was anything but laughs. Oh well...You can't get a laugh out of everyone. (shrug)

Yesterday was an absolute mess of a day as well...We were cell searched on Friday and that went really well; the guards didn't take anything from me, and when I returned to my cell, everything was nice and orderly, and not thrown everywhere like a tornado in a trailer park. Whoever searched my cell must have been a Star Wars fan, because they left all of my Star Wars stuff separated into a nice neat pile. That gave me a smile...After a long boring weekend, we woke up on Monday morning expecting our showers, but it didn't happen because the pod had to be shook down again...Maybe that's what has everyone still ticked off this morning? I don't know, but it was frustrating to say the least.  

I was so tired that I slept all the way through until 8am this morning, and sunlight was pouring through my window. I woke up and made my ritualistic cup of coffee, and set upon the new day, only to have this madness break out around me. Negativity can spread like a bad virus...It only takes a couple of people to get it rolling and soon everyone is grumpy. You know, I just remembered I haven't read my daily Stoic yet. Let's see what it says..."You have been formed in three parts - body, breath and mind. Of these, the first two are yours insofar as they are only in your care. The third alone is truly yours." Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 12.3.  

Ugh...actually, I just gave you yesterday's quote! Apparently, my mind is doing its own thing today (ha ha). Let's look at the correct one!...It's a long one that basically says find a way to turn contempt or even cynicism into a productive use. Not being negative, but instead as a way to understand the behavior. Hmmm. Have to think on that one for a bit.  

Well, not much else is really happening at this point, and my mind is a bit foggy. So, I'll close this here.  

Courage, strength, faith and hope...


April 18th, 2018

I woke up this morning at about 5.25am, to see if they were going to set up recreation or not. Rumor had it that the lock-down was starting today, but we've been hearing the same old stuff for the past month. To add to the confusion this morning we received a normal breakfast. Usually one of the tell-tale signs of a lock-down is what is served at breakfast - we'll usually get a sack meal with some cold pancakes and a pack of syrup. So, I had a cup of coffee ready to drink should I have been set up for rec., but the guards didn't pass by my cell until 6am, and they didn't set up recreation. We're on lock-down...I just crawled right back under the covers and slept for another hour. This lock-down is a full unit lock-down and we'll be down for quite a while - probably until the first week of May, if not longer.  

My mind is still focusing on my legal visit with my attorney yesterday, and I feel really good about what we discussed. I can't go into what his plans are, but I had voiced my frustration with always being seen as a member of "the Texas 7", and not being seen as an individual. Even all these years later, I can't get away from it and it sucks...I asked him, "How come in every filing, previous attorneys and the State of Texas always start their brief with "Randy Halprin...member of the Texas 7, a group (or gang) who escaped..." He told me he didn't like that either and would do everything in his will to try to get the courts to look at me as an INDIVIDUAL. To see ME and not the actions of the group, because even after the escape I tried to disassociate with all that they were doing. I hated it. It made me feel like crap, and whilst, yes, I felt indebted to Rivas, and yes, there were pressures...my internal moral compass...it screamed against all of it.  

A guard asked me yesterday, "Hey Halprin? Would you do it again?" I didn't even hesitate to answer. "Hell no. Most stupid mistake of my life, and not only could it cost me my life, but I'd be free right now. My sentence of 30 years is almost over, and surely I'd have made parole..." He said, "Well I asked another of your co-defendants and he said "every freaking day"". Not me! I am NOT my co-defendant. I'm not perfect; I make mistakes from time to time, but there is nobody I would ever cause harm to. Period. I am NOT that person. I hate being made out to be that person.  

Anyway, I feel confident that whatever is filed will be good. I just want a fighting chance.  

Well I'm guessing we won't get our first sack lunch until later this afternoon. The first couple of days of a lock-down everything happens really late. But at least the mail at night time should get passed out much earlier than usual. It wasn't passed out until some time after midnight last night, which makes no sense.  

I suppose I will get on with the rest of the day and start working on some of my writing projects...

As always, hold onto:

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith...


April 17th, 2018

I woke up at 5.25am for recreation, and headed on out a bit after six. Today was a dayroom day so I wanted to exercise, get back in and wait on my visit from my attorney. I received a "Jpay" message from him last night saying he was going to be up here to visit. I got really excited about that. Oh, you're probably wondering what a "Jpay" is? We're allowed to receive emails via a secure site called Jpay.com. They're printed up and delivered to us at night time. The only thing that sucks is the Texas system only allows us to receive messages, not to send any. Still, it speeds up the mail process considerably.  

Anyways, so I exercise, get my shower and make some lunch. I didn't receive the visit until about 1.30pm, but it went really well and we had a good conversation. His compassion and sincerity in wanting to help me really stands out, and he's a fighter. I said, "I've got hope", and he said, "That's good. I'm fighting for you, and we're going to do our very best." The brief isn't due until May 7th so we'll see what goes on. Me and my girl have this mantra: Courage, strength and hope. I like to close these journals out with it. It does give me some strength and hope.  

Oh, the walk outside to the visitation room was so wonderful. It had to be in the mid 80 degrees, and the blue sky went on for what seemed forever. The birds were pecking away at the grass and I just breathed that wonderful fresh air in and filled my lungs up with it.

We're probably going to be on lock-down...well, if the umpteenth rumor is to be believed. We shall see.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and faith!


April 15th, 2018

Man, the weekend was f-f-f-freezing! We were strangely in the 40s, and because it had been nice and warm the previous week, they had the air conditioning turned on...Once it's on they just keep it on, so it has been like a refrigerator in this place.

I woke up at 5.25 am because I was told I was going outside and I wondered if it would be as cold outside and it was in here, but really, once the sun began to rise, it warmed up quickly. It takes the concrete a little while to warm back up after a bout of cold, so it's still chilly in the cell, but when it hits 80 and warms up by this afternoon, hopefully it'll be a bit better.  

Everyone is wondering what's going on with the lock-down. I was all but certain it would start today and I suppose it could still begin sometime this week, or even today. I've got some writing projects I really want to get on with and not be distracted.  

I was telling the guy I was outside with about my very first lock-down in prison...I was on a transfer until in Bonham, Texas for about two years, and while we had shake-downs, we never had an actual lock-down. Those types of units are not set up to keep inmates from moving around. They're large warehouse type "dorms" with bunk beds everywhere and so I guess they don't bother. After two years, I was shipped to Kenedy, Texas - The Connally Unit - which is identical to Polunsky in every way. The general population buildings are big square buildings, and you have three tiers of cells on each "tank".  

I was first placed on "Four Building" where they house mostly new inmates that work in the fields. You had to do 90 days of "hard" labour before you could request a job change and get a better job like working in the kitchen, or something that was better than swinging a hoe all day long in the hot ass sun, or picking okra...Picking okra is the worst! The ants love it, and they've got these little fibers that itch...It's like sticking your hand in fiber glass!

So, one evening I borrowed my cell mate's radio, and watching out the window I see a bunch of guards running down this side walk to the dormitories. They looked really frantic. I also remember seeing a bunch of nurses head that way with medical bags and stretchers. I'd never seen anything like this in my life before, only on TV or in movies. I was clueless as to what was going on! Suddenly guards come onto the tank and begin to scream "Lock-down! Lockdown!" Get your asses in your cells...Now!!!" My cell mate comes in and I'm like, "Man, I don't know what is going on, but I just watched a shit ton of guards run out towards the dorms." We both watched as more and more people poured down the side walk. Soon, heading back up were the stretchers and one inmate - a Mexican dude - was covered in blood and holding his head. I'd never seen anything like that, either. Then, another stretcher and another...The last stretcher, a white sheet was pulled over a bloodied body...There was no mistaking him for dead. My stomach turned and I thought, "Jesus...this prison crap is for real." I was a bit scared, if I'm honest.  

Well, it turned out a war broke out between two Mexican gangs and we ended up staying on lock-down the entire summer. It was madness! Every time they'd let us out of our cells, another fight or retaliation between the gangs would happen, and back on lock-down we'd go. Imagine eating nothing but sack lunches for almost three months, getting only three showers a week, and having to share a cell with someone the entire time, and not being able to get a break from them...Fortunately, while my cell mate was a bit mentally ill, he wasn't bat shit crazy, so we both enjoyed playing Scrabble, or just jamming out with the radio.   

Around early 2000, Texas finally got a handle on the gangs and began to try new tactics to control them and prevent major fights or wars from breaking out. They relied heavily on their "snitch system" and if the gang intelligence caught the slightest hint that something was going to kick off, they'd swoop in and start locking up any suspected or confirmed gang members and put them on lock-down until the issue was squashed. Guys began to miss visits, commissary, and other privileges, and it was fairly successful. It just took the State a while to catch up. I don't think this unit has been on a security lock-down since the cell phone scandal in 2008. We were on lock-down for a total of about 2 months.  

Just talked to a guard and he said we may be on lock-down on Wednesday...

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith!


April 12th, 2018

I really miss my view...I was moved on Monday night, from C-section on C-pod, to F-section. I had a great view of a field off in the distance. I could see cars pass by, the tree line, plenty of birds and beautiful sunsets. On one hand, I did want to move very badly, because the energy on that side of the pod was beginning to turn really negative and tense. I would have preferred to go to another pod, but I moved to the other side of the pod, and now all I can see is the back side of A-pod - the death watch section. The energy is a bit better where I am now, but still...I'd rather look out of my window.  

Everyone keeps hoping on the lock-down happening, just to get it out of the way; but it doesn't seem to be on the cards until next week. I've got some things I really want to write, and having that few weeks of quiet and no interruptions is going to be great. That's the one positive in that situation.  

Courage. Strength. Hope...And faith!


April 7th, 2018

Some storms moved in and it's gotten quite cold. It looks quite dreary outside my window, and it kind of fits my mood. I'm a bit on the down side...This tends to happen when I over-think the death penalty. It just makes no sense to me that in the 21st Century, in the most advanced country, and progressive when it comes to human rights (though I could make an argument against that claim - a very strong argument)...that we not only execute people, but we are always trying to find new methods of killing, and speeding up the so-called Justice process to kill people more quickly...

This morning I woke up and thought, you know what? I'm really tired of talkers. I'm tired of people saying they're "against" the death penalty...It doesn't CHANGE anything to just talk about it. No one is protesting...No one is going to churches, talking to religious people, and telling them how the death penalty fundamentally goes against EVERYTHING Jesus taught...words aren't enough. It's NOT working!!! We need more action from people.  

Courage. Strength. Hope. And faith...


April 6th, 2018

Man...this has been a crazy day! I went to recreation shortly before noon, which I thought wasn't going to happen and I really didn't want to miss one of my favourite music programs Radioactive, as it is one of the only times during the week that I can listen to some really good indie rock. Houston has no other station that plays anything remotely close which is a shame really, because you would think that the 4th largest city in the nation would be setting standards when it comes to music. Houston is just sub par in all genres. But I digress, I missed my program and that sucked.  

I wasn't expecting to stay out at recreation for more than two hours but it turned into a 4 1/2 hour rec period. At a certain point, when a person is out at rec., people get tired of talking to you, and you get tired of talking to people, and you just want to get back to your cell and do your thing. It's a weird paradox...On one hand, you HATE being stuck in your cell; you get stir crazy and restless, and just want to get out. On the other hand, when you're out in the day room for a long time, you just want to get back to your cell. You've got books to read, letters to write, your radio to listen to. There's an odd "comfort", I suppose. The only exception is when I'm outside. When it's a nice day I never want to come back in; I like to feel the wind, the sun on my face, watch the birds fly over or see the odd propellar plane from the small airport next to the prison.  

Anyway, I didn't get my shower until after 9pm, and I didn't want to miss the Prison Show, but I ended up missing almost all of it. I came in at the tail end of the death row report and the women who do that segment sounded upset. I didn't catch it, but if I had to guess, it would be because of Texas and Arizona's request to the Justice Department to allow the time on the filing of a federal appeal to be changed from one year, to six months...They've tried this before and it mostly gets ignored, but with Sessions as the Attorney General of the Justice Department, he seems all too eager to approve...We'll see what happens!

Here's the problem with "swift" justice...Mistakes happen! You've already got mediocre attorneys filing mediocre appeals. You've got to have the time to review YEARS of the appeals process. Attorneys are over worked and represent MANY clients...too many mistakes can happen, and by speeding up the appeals process, innocent people or people who truly deserve to be spared, are going to slip into the cracks and be killed. It's just crazy to think about...I hate to go out on such a sour note, but, argh!!...It leaves me frustrated.  

Courage. Faith. Strength. Hope...


April 4th, 2018

It's been a really lovely spring day! I've got a little pep in my step because I received news last night that my appeal has been granted ONE LAST extension, until May 7th, 2018...I keep hoping and praying, and I feel like my prayers are being heard. I ask anyone who cares about me to please continue to throw those positive vibes out there and pray for me. I need it. It won't be taken for granted. The State put up a bit of a fight on this extension and I was relieved that the 5th circuit still allowed it. It's rare for a third extension...Thank you, G-d! :)

I had a funny memory flash into my mind when I was suggesting in a letter recently that someone should make personal sun tea jars - a common southern fixture during the summer time - and nothing, and I mean nothing is better than sun tea! It just tastes so different...Well, anyways, I was about 8 or 9 years old, and my dad took me out grocery shopping one time. I used to love pushing the cart, but my entire life I've always been quite the klutz and even now I have a weird problem with being unable to walk in a straight line - I tend to veer a lot. So, I've got the cart and I'm pushing it by this huge display of sun tea jars, and not correcting my path. WHAM! I run right into the display, and it all comes tumbling down. Glass jars are everywhere, and most of them broken! My dad begins to yell at me, and I'm still standing there in shock and awe at how I managed to do that. Fortunately, I didn't get into trouble for it! I think that later, my dad actually thought it was funny because he told the story for years...Good times...

Well, the day is moving pretty good here, and we've got some nice guards working today. Everyone on this side of the pod is in a pretty good mood.  

Courage. Faith. Hope. Strength. And, love!


April 2nd, 2018

Well, I thought for sure we'd be on lock-down, but they're running recreation, and everyone is surprised. Oh, you'll hear no complaints from me, but you've got to be mentally prepared for these things - especially when you expecting it to last longer than three weeks. At this point, I just want to get it over with.  

So, I was channel surfing last night and I caught a re-broadcast of the new Roseanne series. The stuff the political programs were saying earlier that morning was still fresh in my mind, so I went into it with a bit of skepticism...Was it really going to be like the original Roseanne, or was this going to be a futile attempt at reliving the glory days of TGIF in the '90s? I was pleasantly surprised! It definitely felt like the original. It was good, yeah, some of the jokes were a bit corny, but overall I felt like it didn't skip a beat! There are a couple of things that should be cleared up though...both the mainstream media, and Trump/Trump's supporters, totally had the message of the first episode wrong. TOTALLY wrong! It was neither wholeheartedly an endorsement of Trump's policies, nor an indictment on West/East coast philosophies. It did a good job of reflecting what a well rounded family looks like with all of its various opinions/views on life. Yes, Roseanne's character said she voted for Trump because he promised jobs, while her sister, Jackie, constantly threw jabs at her for voting for him, but Roseanne's character was also fiercly independent and feminist as well...In one particular exchange between Jackie and Roseanne, after Roseanne's daughter, Becky, says she's going to be a surrogate for another mother, Roseanne is at first a bit shocked and unsure...Jackie says, "Her body, her right, Roseanne?"...There is a pause, and Roseanne says, "Yeah, her body, her right". I loved that!

Yesterday I described one of the grandchildren as being "gender confused" and I didn't feel comfortable using that description but it's what the media and places like AFR (American Family Radio - a right wing evangelical radio station) were using. Well, they totally had the character wrong! He was neither confused nor acting like a girl, in any way at all. Yes, he wore dresses, and painted his finger nails, but when Roseanne asked him what he identified as he definitively says, "I'm a boy!...I just want to wear things that stand out and pop!"

There were a lot of other moments that were good and I think the point of the first two shows was to get ALL of America to sit down and talk about things and not get into this divide like politicians and certain people try to say...When we look at ourselves and our families, we'll find that there's not one single family in this country that is one size fits all! Each family has a wide range of characters and beliefs, and when we can start listening to each other and trying to understand why a person believes in whatever way they do, we'll be better off for it.  

Now, I still believe that the initial ratings explosion for the show was due to the nostalgia factor, and not because there was a thirst for "blue collar programming" - there has always been plenty of that on tv! I definitely give the first two episodes a thumbs up, and I'll keep listening to it.  

I'm hoping to get a little legal news tonight when they pass out mail...I'm waiting to see if the courts approved the time extension on my appeal or not. With all that's been going on with my case and the attorney changes and drama with all of that, I don't see why the court wouldn't give my new attorneys a little bit more time, but you just never know.  I have faith I'll get it. Still, the waiting...It makes my neurotic brain anxious! It'll be fine, though.  

Courage. Faith. Hope and Strength...and a whole lotta love!


April 1st, 2018

April is here! It's Easter Sunday and we just had a pretty good meal: pork chop, potato salad, two biscuits, beans, peas, and a brownie. Not too shabby.  

I woke up at about 6.30am and waited on my shower. As the sun was rising, I could see the moon go from a yellowish orange colour, to white, as it rose a bit against a blue sky. It was really pretty! I love the view I have outside of my current window: the grass is green again, the trees are sprouting leaves, and there are wild flowers and dandelions all over the place. Really, really lovely. Of course it makes me a little homesick, and I miss the outside world. Just to be able to walk in the grass, or ride my bicycle early in the morning...That would be amazing, I'm sure.  

I was listening to the morning political talk shows and it's the usual Trump BS, but what I'm not getting is this disbelief over the reboot of the comedy show "Roseanne" and its success this past week. All of the pundits are like, "Did Hollywood miss something? Will the success of the reboot make Hollywood pay attention to middle America now?" And Trump is boasting that it's because of him (of course) that the show was successful, and Hollywood ignores the working class...Okay, let's break this down: I grew up on the show "Roseanne" in the 1990s...I loved the show! My best friend, Chad, and I, watched ABC's "TGIF" line up religiously. I usually spent the night at his place on Fridays and Saturdays, and we were all about TGIF..."Family Matters", "Home Improvement", "Roseanne", "Full House"...We were there! So, part of the reboot success has been nostalgia. There's little doubt about that. The 18 million viewers who tuned in to watch it, probably wanted to relive a bit of the original magic. Those numbers will die...It's inevitable.  

What I'm not getting is everyone talking about there being no representation of the middle or working class on television when there is! Programs like "The Middle", "The Carmichael Show", and others, exist so Trump cannot say that it's "because of him". I also have a problem with the many African-American sit-coms that highlight the black struggle and their working class roots, never being given the attention they so rightfully deserve. I find it both humorous and disgusting that a self defined billionaire is the champion of the working class...We truly live in a bizarre world!

I'm also kind of chuckling because how many of Trump's bigotted or racist base tuned in to "Roseanne" to see the "new" Roseanne family...Roseanne's kids, all grown up. One, having a mixed race child, another child being gender confused etc...Are we REALLY to believe they'll be tuning right back in next week??? Please...So, calm down media. Calm down Trump. Talk about the numbers NEXT week and tell me if Hollywood was really ignoring the middle part of America.  

Here's to hoping that the month of April is blessed and full of love and courage and strength...Good things must happen! They WILL happen! April is going to be a good month, I'm sure of it...

Courage, strength, hope and love...!


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