Aug-Sept 2005 - 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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Journals

August 8th, 2005

Today, Gary Sterling is being executed, around 6:00 P.M. I've run into him here and there and he seems to be an alright guy. I don't know what kind of effect it will have once I hear if he has been killed...I try not to think about it much.  But here's what's bothering me: I just watched them take him away out my window...A van pulled into a sally port connecting to a side walk attached to the Death Row Building. Before he was brought out in shackles, a large group of Sergeants, Captains, Majors, the Wardens and a few people in plain clothes, gathered around the sally port gate; they laughed and shook hands...One female even did a little jig. I thought to myself, "How on earth can people be so gleeful when they're about to put a man to death?" Even if the worst thing happened to my very worst of enemies, I could never be happy about something like that. And then it dawned on me: it's very easy to be happy that the dragon has been slain. They see it as having killed the monster...They burned out Frankenstein's creature. To these people we aren't human; we have no face...We are distorted and disfigured beings who have no souls. That's why it's so easy to laugh and dance and cheer.

And so he arrived, shackled like the beast about to be slain. They loaded him into the van and the van pulled out. We will probably never see Gary again. And they all cheer, "Hip Hip Hooray!"



August 10th, 2005

Boy, this week has been full of drama...They just used riot gas on a guy named "Stick". He seemed agitated, and while at recreation, he refused to come out of the day room. The problem was a shower was broken and he had been trying to get the guards to check it out and have it fixed...But an asshole guard who just the other day refused me my shower, wouldn't listen to him and instead taunted him, and intentionally poked and proded him. I call it the "gorilla-in-the-zoo-syndrome". You know, there's  a sign over the gorilla cage that says "Don't feed or tease the  animals" yet, there's always some lovely human being who feels that the rule doesn't apply to them, so they throw peanuts and insults at it. Then, that person makes the mistake of getting a little too close to the cage…The gorilla reaches out, grabs the person, and does some serious damage. Then, later that evening on the news, the reporter asks the bystanders what they think caused the gorilla to lash out...They all say, "Gee, I don't know… lt's just a wild animal that needs to be shot or something".

So,  when Stick tried to talk it out they continued to push him. All he  wanted was to get the shower fixed. So they used riot gas on him to force him out, and then they sent in a riot team to beat him up and drag him out of the day room. And all they really had to do to resolve the matter peacefully, was to take a look at the shower. Oddly enough, after Stick was carried off to the discipline pod, a sergeant ordered the shower be fixed.

I guess Stick got what he wanted in the end.



August 12th, 2005

Another glorious day at the Polunsky Unit (ha ha). I was thinking about some things in my past, because I've been reading this book called "The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat". It's really about neurological problems, and things that cause odd behaviours in people, such as the feeling of being possessed by something, seeing things that aren't there, and other similar problems. It got me thinking of genetic predispositions and how much control we truly have over our lives. Then there's the subject of how our formative years are so important in shaping who we become later on in life. I also wonder what it's like for an adopted child...I am adopted, so I'm interested in trying to understand all of these things.

It's common to hear about the success stories of those who came from abusive families, but what are the statistics for those who ended up on the wrong path? I suspect the numbers are way higher in those instances - way more than those who come out of adoption okay. It's not that I believe adoption is a bad thing - not at all! I love my adoptive parents, and I give them credit for so many wonderful things I experienced in my young life...However, I do wonder if the damage that has already been done in a child's very early years affects how the adoptive parents cope, especially if they aren't equipped enough to nurture the damaged child they adopted? It raises so many questions...Just something I've been thinking about a lot lately...I mean, it's obvious my fear of rejection and feelings of loneliness come from my childhood traumas. I was bounced around various foster homes when I was very young, and when I was 14, I was shipped off to a boarding school in Kentucky...It was too crazy to deal with...Then, there's the question of addictions, and addictive behaviours that are passed down genetically...It's a lot to think about, but hey, I'm no Doctor!



August 16th, 2005

Today, I had an awesome visit with my wife...I love the time we share together! For the two hours I'm at visitation with her, I'm out of this place, and in a different world. Even though the visits take place behind plexi-glass, I feel so close to her...So in love...I am lost and swimming in her eyes and love...She is my blessing!

During visit we talked about the issues going on in her, and her mother's, lives. If only I could spill all of that out! Hell, it's more dramatic than a soap opera! My life is full of melodrama...I'm the melodramatic bubble boy, trapped in this big play. Anyway, we had a lovely time...I digress at times and can be melodramatic myself so…

Throughout my journals I will most likely ramble on about how much I love Mary; she has become family to me! She's so much more than just my wife - she is my best friend, and has made me believe in the healing powers of love. As cliched as that sounds, it's very true...and very pure. Love can solve it all, and be the most powerful pain-killer in the world. After all isn't that what God is all about? Love and forgiveness?



August 20th, 2005

Weekends here suck! Not that they are much different from the regular days, but we get no mail. Nothin'! We just sit and listen to the radio, talk, eat, and just bullshit around. And I do my chores..wash my laundry, clean my cell up, and all of that wonderful stuff. Trust me, I'm no electronic whizz, but I think I'd make my dad proud...I've taught myself a lot during my time here...The things my brain has figured out through pure and utter boredom. You should see the crazy ass inventions I've sketched out and written down...They're whacky, but practical! I swear...

Oh well, another new week is on the horizon...



August 22nd, 2005

Tonight is the last night of my friend, Robert Shields', life. I am listening to the KDOL radio station, and Robert's family are calling in with their "goodbyes", and they've been playing his favourite songs. It's heart breaking...

I  liked Robert...I shared many of my books with him. We liked the same music and comics too. We had much in common. I'm so tired of having people I know and like, picked off like flies...It really eats at my mind. It's like watching bowling pins slowly drop one by one. When will they realize that this makes victims out of so many others? How can death vengeance be just and fair? It should make every human soul cringe in disgust.

Ashes...Ashes...We all fall down...



August 23rd, 2005

Today is Robert Shields' execution date; they've been talking about it on the radio, and on the classic rock station out of Houston. Apparently the station intern is going to be a media witness at the execution, and then write an editorial about what his experience was like...I don't know how I feel about that. I don't want to cast judgement, but if they make a mockery of the situation by doing something like a stupid radio prank, I'll be quite pissed and I'll never listen to that station again. They had some people call in with some very sickening views; it stings all the more when you are on the receiving end of those opinions. I will never understand how people can be so… so blood thirsty. Is this who we are as humans? Have we not evolved into higher beings where two wrongs don't make a right? Where forgiveness and love are put on the back burner? It boggles my mind!

On other topics, today has been hot as hell. I've been thinking of how I am going to rewrite my novel. I just don't like the direction it went, and there were too many twists and turns. I just turned the radio dial to KTRU, Rice University...I love  this station! They're playing this really awesome cover of the Rolling Stones' "Miss You"...It's sexy, and kind of sad too.  

It's a little past 6:30 P.M. now. I just heard that they did execute Robert. Good Bye Friend…



August 24th, 2005

It's a little after eight in the morning, and my wife is supposed to come and visit today, and I hope she comes safely. I listened to the report the intern did on Robert Shields' execution...Surprisingly, it wasn't too bad; he did a fairly balanced report, and talked about how Robert brought his demise upon himself, but after witnessing the execution, he himself was shocked at the whole thing and came away with his opinion well and truly shaken up. The station let some listeners call in and respond to what the intern had said, but I have to disagree wholeheartedly with one of them in particular...The caller said that Robert's father was not a victim, so he didn't have a right to say his son was murdered by the State...I couldn't disagree more. Everyone becomes a victim in a revenge situation; the media never reports what it does to the other side, so the feelings of the executed person's family and friends are never heard...It's time that changed! People mistakingly believe that because someone's child, father, brother, son, whatever, was a "monster", they therefore don't have a right to feel pain and grief at the loss of their loved one...Revenge can't ever be the answer, and can never serve true justice.  

Well, it's a little after twelve and I just had my visit with my wife. It was wonderful, as always, and I never can be patient until the next one. I ate a salad, some chips, and my favourite soda: Mountain Dew. Oh yeah! We talked about all kinds of stuff as we always do. Usually it's pretty crowded down there, but it wasn't too bad today. We get put into this little cage that has a seat and a phone...Plexi-glass separates us, but it is opened up on her side. She just pulls a seat up and we begin our visit, or as we call it, our "Date". Sometimes there's a lot of commotion - people walking around, talking loudly, so it becomes difficult to concentrate, and having Attention Deficit Disorder doesn't help me too much either.  But hey, it's really not too hard to concentrate on her. I'm ridiculous, right? Ever the hopeless romantic…!

I'm  hoping I will be moved to another pod tonight. I'm back here with all of these guys with regular time. I'm really not supposed to be anywhere near them, nor are they supposed to be anywhere near any death row inmate, but because I cannot be around my other co-defendants, they are willing to break their security rules to do this. It's not bad, but I get tired of all these guys asking me idiotic questions about being on death row, and the escape in 2000. Because I am a so called "Escape Risk" I get shifted around each week to a different pod. A pod is basically a large area with different sections A, B, C D, E, F… There are 14 cells to each section. I get put in any cell that may be open at the time. If it's filled up they will just switch me out with another inmate. To me it seems like it's more trouble than necessary, considering the prison is so short staffed, but hey, it's fine by me. It certainly helps to ease the monotony!  



September 20th, 2005

Today, Mary should have come down to see me, but on Sunday listening to the shout out show, she called in and told me that she wouldn't be able to come down this week. And while I know the reasons why she can't come, it still breaks my heart, because things with us are so fragile right now.  It's difficult to watch the woman you are in love with, slip away right in front of your eyes. I really gave my all in our relationship. I focused each and every day around her, and to be honest I wouldn't know what  to do, how to adjust, if she chose to go another way. I think we would always share a friendship. I consider her my best friend, but how do you make that change from husband and wife, to back to being friends? I wish I could go into everything, but some things should be left for me to figure out within myself. I've been so lost in thought these past days, in a fog… I haven't felt like this since 1996 when I lost another great love, Theresa. Sure, that was just one of those high school puppy dog romances. Imagine that feeling when you were young and in love and multiply it times a hundred. That's how I feel right now watching my marriage slip away.

I understand how she feels, and while I wish I could be selfish and play the "What about me?" card, I'm not that person. I'm not the person who will hold my situation over her head. I just can't. I've seen so many guys say, "Well, if you leave me, I'll drop my appeals…"  Come on. That's so lame. Sure, things will feel hopeless but things have their purpose and as long as she will remain in my life in some way, I will be okay. I'm still fighting to keep us together, but I truly feel her mind is made up. Sometimes you just have to accept defeat. I just don't want those fears of dying without love to start creeping back in. Those demons have always lurked in the shadows of my life and I can feel them swarming around like a dog who smells red meat…



September 21st, 2005

It's Wednesday morning and I just had my morning cup of coffee. Sunlight is seeping into my cell. Here in a second I will be going to recreation. I'll exercise the whole hour, and today is my lower body work out. I don't know why but I always hate doing these exercises the most. But at least it will take my mind off of all my troubles here lately. I'm trying to keep from letting depression set in, because if it does, I'll be out of it for quite a while. I get to the point where I just want to sit in bed with my headphones on and just stare out into nothing.

I just got a denial of mail from the mail room; this one from a friend who is a writer. He is sharing his work on a novel he's writing with me and I've been following his every change. Well, this is the first time the mail room has denied a big envelope of his calling it a "Publication" - it's not even published yet, so I don't know how they can do that. Crazy! It seems that lately they've gone into over drive on censorship. If one thing irks me more than anything it's censorship, especially since I'm a very opinionated person. But they will do what they will do and nobody can do anything about it in here. You would think that common sense would prevail every now and then, but it's a very rare thing around here.

It's now 10am and I've just come back from recreation. I had a very good workout, and got some of my frustration and heartache out of my system...I'll be good for a few hours. Until I start looking at pictures and all of that, again...I keep a picture of Mary on my desk...We have a tradition of kissing our pictures of each other each night before we go to sleep.  I'll think of her as the day goes by wondering what she's doing and all of that… It's even harder now.

Lunch time. Gotta go.

Well, it's now afternoon time. I've been waiting on my shower and just thinking about why I fear dying alone, without love. I know that it stems from my childhood and experiences as teenager. Being adopted and then sent off to boarding school and then all that followed after that…Not a pretty experience. First, the change of being taken away from a family who beat you as a child, who would say they love you and then push you down stairs, or out a window or knock your tooth out. Then going into a foster home. Then  another foster home and then another, and finally to a foster home that is decent, but wants to adopt your brother, because he's still a  toddler and not you, because you are 5 and too old for them and too much trouble, and because you don't know your ABCs or how to count...Then, finally being adopted with your brother, when nine years later you are sent off to boarding school, not for being a trouble maker but for bad grades. I understood that, but I didn't understand at the time when I did get my grades up and did make up the year I failed - with honors and awards - why they then didn't let me come back home. Then, when the school thought I was suicidal they kick me out saying they don't know how to deal with that…This is a school which, by the way, was for teens with various problems…then my parents say I'm becoming too much trouble for them and I can't come home but they'll get me an apartment anywhere I want to go. They'll help me get on my feet. I'm 17 years old for crying out loud! What do I know about living on my own?  

Well, hopefully you see my point. This is where my fears started from. This is why I needed drugs to push away those demons. But when you push away one problem with another problem, it begins to get pretty deep…All I've ever wanted in my life more than anything on this earth was to be loved, to give as much love as I have to give to a person who has as much love to give to me. More than anything in this universe. When it all comes down to it, isn't that what we all truly want inside? To be loved? To feel wanted by someone and to be loved…

Random Thoughts: If you say we are soul mates, then why say that this life is too hard…Aren't you admitting we're not soul mates after all? Will I ever find my "soul mate"? Do soul mates even exist? Is there a person to whom each of us is connected, somewhere in this life?

I used to be a quitter, but now I've come to dislike quitters because a quitter takes too many things for granted. A quitter assumes that there will always be a next time and a next and a next…  



September 22nd, 2005

Another crazy day! Right now I'm listening to report after report of hurricane Rita. It's going to be hitting the Gulf coast and Houston pretty soon, some time around tomorrow. Here in Livingston, Texas we might be getting some of the hurricane. They locked the unit down, meaning we cannot leave our cells for any reason except medical purposes. I'm not even sure if they're running visits today. Then, they just moved about 800 inmates from other prison units to this unit. They were in flood zones and the strike zones of the hurricane. So things are bit hectic around here. Stressful, too.

We usually get lunch around 9:30 in the morning, but it's almost 2pm now and still have had nothing to eat. I don't usually complain about the food and all of that, but man, I'm hungry. We get breakfast around 2 or 3am in the morning, so it's been about 12 hours since our last meal. Ugh!

Really all I've been doing today is sitting and thinking about how I'm going to adjust, should Mary and I split. There's a song by Stevie Nicks, called "LandSlide"...The chorus goes, "I've been 'fraid of changing cause I built my life around you …" Man, is that ever right. I try to get my mind off of it, but it just keeps coming back. I thought I'd be able to get over it or try to bury these feelings, because that's my specialty - burying my emotions - but that's not working either. It's hard. This type of life is hard – even on me.

Hey, lunch is here! Yay! I never thought I'd be so happy to recieve some of this fine prison cuisine, but I'm hungry as a horse right now and would probably eat about anything.

Yum.  It's spaghetti.


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