It's New Year's Eve and 9:41 P.M. I'm currently listening to 94.5 The Buzz, a radio station out of Houston, and they are playing the top 94 songs of 2007. The list has been highly sucky, but they've managed to play a couple of good ones, "Super Massive Black Hole" and "Star Light" by Muse, "The Heinrich Maneuver" by Interpol, "Capital G" by Nine Inch Nails, "Tarantula" and "That's the Way My Love" by Smashing Pumpkins. The rest of the Alt Rock has stunk…
I like to keep certain things private, as it should be, but I really want to say this: I'm so freakin' tired of getting my hopes up. But it all helps me to get closer to my goal of not getting upset over things I have no control over. Easier said than done. Here's to hoping the new year starts better than it ended. I'm tired of being disappointed by people. Ah that's hypocritical. I know I'm one big disappointment myself.
Today was okay. I went to recreation and goofed around, exercised a bit, came back to my cell and stared at the wall. Lots of fun.
Happy New Year.
December 30th, 2007
Wow. One more day to the new year. It makes me kind of anxious. Today started off well. Yesterday was incredibly boring and I just kicked back, but today I've been moving since the second I hopped out of bed. Last night I made a friendly bet with my neighbor to see who could be in the best shape by May. We're both in pretty bad shape so it should be interesting. I got up and exercised and then cleaned up and did laundry. Now I'm catching up on writing.
It's really nice outside. It'd be nicer to get out and play some ball. Maybe tomorrow before the cold front hits.
December 28th, 2007
It's Friday. Man, is this week flying by. I've just been sitting here going through my property, cleaning and clearing things out for my return to Dallas. I have to do this so that the property officer won't go in and clean me out of their own accord. I had to also find out through the laundry officer how to get my blanket and jacket back when I return. When I leave for my hearings I have to turn everything in (even if I'm coming back), including my mattress, my linens, everything. My property will be searched and then stored. It's kind of a pain, but, oh well. I realized that when I do go back to Dallas I'll probably get little sleep. My first couple of nights will take some adjusting to because it's incredibly loud, but it is what it is and I take it all in my stride.
I was incredibly saddened about the news that Benizier Bhutto was assassinated. Hearing the old interviews she sounds truly sincere in her love for the people of Pakistan. What a crazy world we live in.
Not much else is going on today. The day is winding down and I've got the radio on. Right now RadioHead's "Body Snatcher" is on. Damn good song. Another song I'm really enjoying at the moment is The Killers cover of Joy Division's "Shadow Play." Sick! (in a good way).
Peace and love.
December 27th, 2007
Madness!!! Someone on E-section has flooded their cell and it reached all the way to C-section. That's a lot of toilet water!! That's the second time this week. Apparently the guy who is doing it is mentally ill and the guys on his section with the help of guards, are also getting him hyped up. It really irks me when people pick on the mentally ill.
December 26th, 2007
The holidays are over and things are getting back to normal here on Polunsky Unit. Well, except for New Years, that is. It's weird because when I go up and down the dial on my radio the xmas ads just vanished. No more music, nothing. It's kind of anti-climactic, if you ask me.
Today was okay. I went outside in nippy weather to play basketball. I just needed to run off some stress and the holiday blues. I had to find a soccer partner, and talked my neighbor into it. We played about 18 games and I won every single one. Though, I don't recommend running in the cold! The air ran straight through my lungs and I was coughing and hacking away. When I came back inside, my throat was hoarse. It was some much needed exercise and I loved it.
An interesting thing happened today that kind of touched me. A guard popped by to tell me he was quitting. He said, "I'm gone. Hope everything works out for you." I was kind of confused and asked, "You're gone?" He replied, "Yeah, I'm quitting. I just wanted to wish you good luck on your appeals and I hope you get off from back here. You don't belong back here." He had told me before that he had been following my case, so I was touched that he would stop by to tell me that. It's a weird feeling because many guys here on Ad-seg have said the same thing, that I don't belong on Death Row and that they're pulling for me. Now, these guys for the most part are pretty hardened men and they don't offer good wishes and such, so I take them as good omens for 2008. We shall see.
Peace and love.
December 25th, 2007
Another holiday is almost over, and it had a good ending for me. I watched as the sun set out of my window and thought this had to be one stressful month! I'll spare you the whining…
The day began with the passing out of the dessert trays. These usually come first and are usually a Styrofoam plate loaded down with deviled eggs, sweet pickles, a couple pieces of pie and a couple of cookies. Then they pass out sack lunches that are for dinner. After they pass those items they pass out the lunch tray and this year we had a roll, potato salad, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and some roast beef and ham. I gave the meat to my neighbor and, man, was he happy. I get the craziest responses when I give meat away, but I'm trying to stick to my vegetarian diet.
After lunch I went out to recreation. I haven't been out of my cell for anything but my showers for the past three days, so I really needed to get out. Depression sucks and I find myself now just trying to avoid people when I get like that. Everyone just wants to get in your business. I know it's out of concern, mostly...
So, I read the craziest article in the Dallas Morning News last week that I had been meaning to address. It was pure hogwash. The article focused on people (mainly women) who write to death row prisoners. I mean, the journalist really put a bashing on those who show compassion, friendship or love to us, and while some of what the reporter wrote is true (such as inmates who take advantage of pen pals) the bulk of it was just hogwash. The purpose of the article was to demean those who get involved with our lives. They talked to some woman who works in the Lake Livingston Motel who was quoted as saying, "Sometimes when I see people coming to visit these men on death row I just want to shake them and say, "Are you stupid? They're just conning you!" Of course she has no problem taking their money to keep her motel running…
Other than the stigma of being on death row, I ask what is the difference between making a new friend in the world or going to a bar and picking someone up? And besides, there really aren't that many lovey-dovey type relationships back here. Do they exist? Of course. Love is found in the strangest of places. Love is love, but most relationships are platonic. Yes, some do con others by lying about how much an item might cost on commissary, or they might try to have multiple 'girl friends', but for the most part I would say that those who do write to guys on death row or in prison in general are not stupid or sick. They have a true altruistic spirit and want to help guys out back here. I think reaching out to a prisoner has to be one of the greatest expressions of compassion.
The other thing the reporter wrote that is mostly false is saying that guys trade personal pictures like baseball cards. I've been locked up 12 years and have never seen anyone trade off personal photos of their girl friends or wives like it's a Topps Baseball card (no gum included). Now, there are places where you can buy pictures of scantily clad women for stamps or money orders, and I have seen those traded like baseball cards, but not personal photos. There are too many jealous and insecure men back here for that to happen. Dudes would be trying to strangle each other. Whatever happened to journalistic integrity? It was a fluff piece. Garbage. Sensationalistic crap. I mean, why on earth did he close the article with a story from a warden telling of how he once caught an inmate having sex with a teacher on a desk? What was the point of that and how did it even have anything to do with the overall story? And to think the article was on the front page! That's the mainstream media for you. I know, I'm rambling. I can't even tell you the date of the article. I think it was Sunday, December 9th, 2007 or something...
Agh!! The past month has sucked so bad I can't even get my thoughts clear. I was reading something recently and ran across a touching poem written in the 1500's by a saint named Juan de Santo Matias. The poem is called "Sin arrimo y con arrimo" or "Without Help and With help."
Without help and with help
Without light and living in the darkness
Everything consumes me.
My soul is in threads.
From everything, something is grown
And uplifted by itself
Into life filled with ecstasy and richness
Only a being God helped.
For that reason it will be said,
The thing I most cherish
That my soul see itself even now.
Without help and with help.
December 23rd, 2007
It's 12:44 P.M. as I sit here listening to the Christmas edition of "A Prairie Home Companion." It's cold and I'm drinking a steaming cup of hot cocoa as blue light pours through my cell window. It was supposed to rain last night, but it's gorgeous outside. You can tell it's one of those crisp winter days. Perfect for driving around and checking out all the houses and their holiday decorations. It's been years since I've done that.
Anyone who follows my journals knows I'm private about, you know, private stuff...I've grown up and matured since my marriage broke down. Lately, I just haven't been up to writing anything, as the past two months have been emotionally draining for me and to be honest I didn't feel like pouring my pains and troubles out to the world (some are probably saying right now - thank God!) and so I just internalized most of it and shut down for a bit. Not the best of ideas, but I'm feeling better and item number 5,547 on my things to do in 2008 list is: stop fretting over things you have no control over. Of course, I tell myself this every year and end up doing it anyway so I might as well chuck that one in the trash bin before the New Year even starts.
Last night I had a memory pop up that I hadn't had in a long time. It was something I was surprised I had forgotten and brought about by listening to the movie (dork alert) "Elf." I thought the movie was going to be cheesy, but I found it kind of touching in the sense that Will Ferrell's character Buddy the Elf was trying to reconnect with his father. I ended up missing my own dad very much and thought about things we had done on holidays and on school breaks, and I suddenly remembered the very last time I ever saw him in 1995.
I was living in a small studio apartment in Lexington, Kentucky, and knew my dad would by flying into Lexington to visit my brother for Family Day at our school OBI (Oneida Baptist Institute). I decided to surprise him at the airport and waited on his plane to fly in. Earlier that year he had a heart attack and I knew he had lost a lot of weight, but I was surprised to see how much he had lost as he walked into the terminal. I yelled, "Dad!" and walked up to him to give him a hug. He looked surprised, but accepted my embrace. "How did you know I was coming?" he asked. "Wes told me you were coming up for Family Day so I thought I'd surprise you," I said. "You look good," Dad said. "Man, so do you. You weren't joking about the weight loss. I can't believe it."
I walked with him and helped him pick up his luggage and he said he wanted to get something to eat, so I told him there was a nearby McDonalds and I would buy. We went to the fast food place, but he insisted on buying. As we ate we made small talk and he asked how my girlfriend and I were doing. I told him that after the fall break at OBI I would be returning to school. He told me he didn't think that would be a good idea, but I told him I didn't want to get a GED. I wanted to graduate. He changed the subject and asked if he could see my apartment. I knew it was a mess and honestly hadn't thought about letting him see it, but I said, "Sure," and we left to check it out.
I could tell by the look on his face that he knew I wasn't joking as we entered my small studio. I had junk everywhere, clothing, pizza boxes, dishes in the sink. "Uh, I was planning on cleaning it up later, but I've been busy getting ready to go back to school." "Uh-huh…well, it's not so bad." We talked a little bit more and he said that he'd stop by again with Wesley after Family Day…
A day passed and on Sunday he showed up. This time I had the apartment super clean. My dad and brother showed up and I gave both of them hugs. Dad asked if he could use my phone to call mom. I handed it to him and we all talked to her. Then dad said he had time to kill until his flight and asked what there was to do. I told him we could check out the Horse Race Museum and that's where we went. I remember taking some pictures with him and my brother and then we went to the airport. I gave them both a hug and told them to have a safe flight and watched them board the plane. Had I thought it would be the very last time I would see him I think I would have held the hug a little longer.
In 1996, as I sat in county jail, I remembered an AT&T commercial. It was Christmas and a kid who ran away from home goes to a pay phone. He tells the operator his story and asks if she will connect him to his home. A second passes and you see a shot of his mother answering the phone and he says, "Mom? I'm sorry. I want to come home…" Watching that commercial, I had to get up and go to my cell and cry my butt off. I wanted nothing more than to be at home. I still want nothing more than to be home, but even if that's not possible, I wish I had my family back.
This past Tuesday I had a little bit of good news. My attorney stopped by to tell me that I would for sure be returning to Dallas in mid-January. I should be there until February. He said I need to be prepared for some intense hearings, but I'm pleased that all of this is happening and that everything that went wrong in my trial is going to come to light. I feel good and positive that this is going to work out for the best. I don't look forward to reliving my trial, but maybe I'll gain some insight from these hearings.
The other benefit is just getting away from death row for a bit. I need to get away from this place. I need something that will give me a fresh perspective. Most of all, I think I will be able to clear my head. While it will undoubtedly be much noisier in Dallas County Jail, I can use the time away from the radio and interruptions of life here, to think about things, my life, and my future. Good can only come out of this trip. Here's to hoping for the best…
I suppose I will close this up for the day and wish everyone peace and love. Times can be tough and depressing, but someone always has it worse.
December 3rd, 2007
It's December and officially Holiday Season, a time of year I particularly love and yet today I'm depressed for no apparent reason. Maybe it's because I keep anticipating going back to Dallas, maybe it's because I feel more alone than usual. Maybe it's because I wake up in this cell and think, damn, I'm still in this place? You have these super-realistic dreams, you're 18 and free and then a guard knocks on your door to make sure you are still alive, shattering the world you so wish was real. I can't begin to explain how bad that feeling is.
I tried to keep my mind occupied today by helping the guys back here to get their radios working properly. It keeps me busy and focused. I enjoy doing it. I'm still on the ad. seg. pod and some people can be difficult to deal with, but one of these days I'd love to bring change to this environment. I've got ideas, so hopefully I'll live to fulfill them. I really don't mind being back here any more as I love to pick up art work and such for cheap prices, but I have to save my pennies to get a new typewriter. So frustrating, but necessary because I have an important writing project. I've been asked to write an essay for an anti-death penalty book. That's something I look forward to doing. Then I have a personal project I've put off for years and I think I can finally write it, though it will probably never see the light of day.
I really have to set some goals for 2008. I mean, I already have long term goals mapped out if I win my appeal, but I'm thinking short term, more immediate goals. Sigh… Just thinking out loud…These are some of my days.