Well, it's Christmas Day, and we just had our meal, and I have to say that it wasn't bad at all. Of course there were the typical complaints from people but I always tell them jokingly "Wow...first world problems, huh? Man! Life is tough!" We had chicken breast, a slice of brisket, a huge roll, carrots, cabbage, onions...two pieces of pie and an apple and orange. Not too shabby at all.
I was going to write a little something on Christmas Eve but couldn't really find the emotional energy to do so. Christmas Eve is always so difficult for me because my life irreversibly changed. I reflect every year, saying to myself "how in the hell did you get yourself into this mess?" But please don't interpret that as self pity. It's not. It's just that there's so much remorse and regret...Regardless of the fact that I didn't kill anyone, I was just so fucking naive to believe that escaping was the answer, and just because I didn't want to see anyone hurt, that didn't mean it couldn't happen by others. So many lives changed. So many lives lost. A family without a husband and father, a son...Be cynical about it all you want, but from the depths of my heart and soul I'm sorry this happened. I wish I could go back in time to my 23 year old self and say "Look, dude...no matter how helpless and hopeless you feel right now it will pass and things will get better. It's not worth everything that will happen. It's not worth it."
And so I spent the evening in the dark reflecting...I do fully intend to write about everything in the memoir I'm currently writing. Just as a I feel there's not an accurate account of the escape, I feel that there's not an accurate account of Christmas Eve, 2000. The truth should be out there...
I woke up this morning and went straight to work to keep myself from falling into a depression. I've just been working on some writing and cleaning etc. I think I'll catch a few holiday movies this afternoon and tonight, listen to a commercial free cut of Bridesmaids...so funny! I love that movie. People think of the title and say oh...chick flick, but really not even close. I laugh my butt off every time.
Tomorrow, everything will return to normal and we'll prepare for the new year...I'm keeping hopeful about my appeals...So, coming from a semi-agnostic Jewish guy...Merry Christmas!
December 16th, 2014
Lock down ended yesterday and I was able to get outside. It was lovely to breathe in some fresh air, jog and exercise. The guy that I was outside with was a bit on the strange side, and spent a good chunk of the four hours we were out, just talking to himself...It felt like spring with a nice breeze and sunshine splashing across the concrete, so once I finished working out I found a nice sunny spot and let the sunlight bathe me. I zoned out and let my thoughts drift. It geve me a sense of euphoria, and I came back inside feeling brighter in myself. Sigh...Anyone who knows me knows I have long had this nagging empty feeling, like something quite specific is missing in my life...Maybe one day it will leave me.
Tonight begins the first night of Chanukah, and while I'm not really religious or even 'believe' like I once did, the traditions still mean a whole lot to me. I like to spend that first night kind of reflecting and remembering past Chanukahs as a kid. The first night's gift was always going to be a slinky without fail. Never changed, and I'm not really sure how my mom and dad started that tradition. It would be a square box and my brother and I never had to guess what It was. Each night the gifts would get a bit better. The eighth night would be the really cool gift. Some of the best ones that I can clearly remember were the Millinium Falcon from Star Wars...That thing was huge and ran off like four D batteries to make sound effects. I think the best gift ever was the stereo system I recieved when I was about 11 or 12; it had a double deck cassette player and record player with a high speed dubber and equalizer. Until I got my CD player stereo when I was 14 that bad puppy recorded many sappy love songs and mix tapes. Dad would pull out the menorah which I believed belonged to my grandmother and would place it on a plate and then would pull out a box of colorful candles, we would say a prayer in Hebrew and then light another candle for each night. They are memories I will never forget...
December 13th, 2014
Well, we've just had our 'shake down' of the cells and it went by without any problems, and the anxiety of waiting is over...Woo hoo!! Actually, I think they were in a huge rush to get things done by the end of the weekend, and have us off of lock-down by Monday. It seemed like they made more of a mess than actually go through everything. The way that they do it now is they give us a big red bread crate. Our property has to fit within the crate, and any excess property is then confiscated. I'm usually within compliance because I get moved every two weeks and I intentionally keep it light. Any books, comics, and magazines that I read I either donate or give to someone who wants to read them. There's little I hold onto in that category. Anyway, so they dump the crate over on the floor and start going through the items. By the time you go back to your cell it looks like a bomb has gone off. Then, it's get back to your cell, pick everything up, and clean. Good times.
So...today is the 14th anniversary of the escape. I don't think I've ever gone into full detail about it all and I have been going back and forth on whether or not I wanted to write about it. I've given little accounts here and there, but it isn't something I generally discuss with anyone. Not with friends, not with anyone back here. Sometimes guys back here on death row will try to fish information or they have heard different stories from George Rivas, and it doesn't surprise me that he would boast about it! Other times, I'll give a shrug or a nod of the head and either deflect the conversation or tell people, "I don't really talk about it." I will say this, though: when asked if it was worth it, or would I do it again if given the chance, I emphatically say NO. That person, that head space I was in doesn't even exist anymore. I'm not sure when that changed...I'm not sure when I felt the helplessness and hopelessness end. I've been sad, I've felt like the world was against me, but I don't think like that anymore, and for a very long time I haven't felt as helpless as I did back in December 2000. I just truly felt like I had nothing to lose. No friends, no family...nothing. I just wanted to start over - as naive as that sounds. I wanted to disappear, create a new life, and start from scratch. If I had thought at any time a person would be hurt or killed I would've never gone with those guys and that is just the straight up truth! Believe this or not, but the escape and being on the run afterwards was designed so that no one would get hurt. I'm sure eyes rolled just reading that, but I know that to be true. I can't say what went wrong, but I can say with all honesty, I participated in NO violence towards anyone. I didn't hurt anyone during the escape, I didn't hurt or kill anyone after the escape. I know where I stand with God on that. I'm not saying I'm not responsible for my choices and actions before and after the escape; I absolutely am, and I absolutely accept whatever punishment should come from those choices. But a killer I am not.
Friday I recieved a letter from my Attorney. e's just accepted a job with the Tarrant ounty DA's Office so he's withdrawing from my case and I'll be appointed a new attorney, but I wanted to share something he wrote in the letter. [Update 1st April, 2018: My Webmaster has uploaded a scanned copy of my old attorney's letter, and you can see it under the tab "Randy's Case", sub-heading "Miscellaneous Documents"]. I was touched by his words, but they also kept me grounded in the reality of what I face.
I just paused for a second and was thinking about when the helplessness and hopelessness faded...I thought about some of the people in my life, like some good friends who have been around for a while, and who I know will always be there, come what may. Even those times when I thought I'd found love - romantic, true love - and it's failed, it's still taught me things and shaped who I am. There are a handful of people in my life whose friendship I cherish, and who I know will stick around, and I'm grateful for that.
December 11th, 2014
Still on lock down and they haven't gotten to this pod to do the shake down of our cells yet. I'm thinking it may be tomorrow. I'll be ready to just get it over and done with. There's always a slight anxiety that builds up until they've gotten your search out of the way. Not that I have any contraband, but just the act of them tearing through your 'home' and essentially your private goods. It makes you feel a bit exposed and naked. Then, there's just the fact that anything you own doesn't really belong to you. There's not any single item in my cell that truly belongs to me. It could be taken and thrown away at any moment. It is one of the cold harsh realities of being in prison.
There have been some interesting conversations that have been going on in the news and in politics, about what constitutes as torture...there are many who believe that solitary confinement or "AD-SEG" (also known as Administrative Segregation — doesn't that sound like some kind of dystopian, Hunger Games District 12 type term???) is the equivelent of torture. There are many studies and articles about it and it has been an issue on UN Councils and Congressional Meetings in the U.S., but it seems to just peter out after a while. It has kind of come back again with the release of de-classified documents that describe in detail the CIA's torture program. I just read an interview with John Stewart about a movie he did called "Roseweter" based on the journalist Maziar Bahari who was detained and tortured in Iran. The interviewer states to John Stewart, "Solitary confinement is torture." Stewart replies, "I don't think there's any question of that. We have this whole discussion of "Well as long as they aren't being water boarded then it's not turture". But removing stimulation from someone will drive them insane."
I guess what is more surprising for me is that people act shocked that the CIA had indeed been torturing people, I mean, we do it to our own citizens! Sure, it's not water boarding, but if you think for a second that prisoners don't get beaten, starved, suffer sleep deprivation, are humiliated etc...You're quite ignorant. Furthermore, I would argue that it is reductive to justify any of it by saying "Well, they're criminals they deserve it." It is childish to try to make a moral equivalent of it. I can be cruel to you because you were cruel to me...Circular logic. But what the hell do I know?
In other news, I'm feeling kind of bad about something that happened a couple of months ago and admittedly it was my screw up...A guy back here asked if I'd take care of something and I dropped the ball, and now he's pretty upset with me...but I'm trying to make him understand that while I did mess up, the situation spun out of control. I had no control over the actual circumstances! I consider him a friend and would in no way ever try to intentionally screw him over. But now there are other dudes trying to manufacture drama and put crap in his mind, and it isn't helping much. Why is there the need to fuel drama? I'm starting to think there are people who love to sit on the sidelines and create chaos. As long as it's happening to someone else then it's fine with them. They think it's funny as fuck...
That is what is happening in my part of the world. Full report coming after we are sell searched, which I hope will be tonight or tomorrow!
December 9th, 2014
Do you ever wake up thinking "something within me has to change?" For the past couple of months that thought has been one of the first I have every morning. Why? Because over the past couple of years I've felt like I lost something. Something more than going through a loss of someone you really loved, or something more than a religion or a certain set of beliefs. Ugh! I know it has something to do with this freakin' empty feeling I have that I just can't fill...I have been analyzing it over and over, feeling a lot of emptiness inside. I've felt like the past years, while having some okay things happen, have been a sort of regression. I've felt like where I should be constantly moving forward I've instead been taking steps back. Not reverting to some old version of myself that got me into the mess I'm in, but I've become more cynical, a bit less trusting and more suspicious...in some ways I do feel it is justified, but in other ways it is so contrary to who I really am. I want my smile back and my happiness. I want the drive to push and fight like I had. I want to be kinder. I'm hopeful that one day, that void inside me will be filled...I just have to be patient and make certain it's the right thing, the right person. I WON'T jump in with the first thing that comes along - remember, all that glitters is not gold! I will look forward to that chapter happening in my life, when it happens...If it ever were to happen...
So, as I write this we're currently on lock down. I had a sneaky suspicion that at some point in December they would do this to death row. Most guys thought that if they didn't lock us down on the first of December then it probably wouldn't happen until January because they've already met their requirement of four shakedowns a year. This one right now makes five. But I've learned not to be surprised when these things happen. I mean, no one would've ever guessed that we would be on a lock down over July 4th, but that happened so what is another one during the Christmas holiday season? Apparently Mr. Scrooge runs this place.
I did want to rant a little bit...I find it interesting that people in the media like to manufacture fake drama and scandals. I recently learned of some VICE magazine article that was going on about Charles Manson getting married, as if there weren't more pressing issues in the world to cover like say, BILLIONS OF PEOPLE STARVING TO DEATH RIGHT NOW or something. I'm just saying! I guess from my understanding of the article it then went into murderabilia stuff, which I sincerely find appaling. Apparently I was mentioned in this article because someone is trying to sell a letter of mine. I have to be honest and say that I was sincerely pissed off at this. One, I think it is disgusting for people to either profit from a crime or exploit guys back here who are clueless, and put a certain amount of trust in those who write them. All I can say is shame on you/them...We're vulnerable in the sense that most of the guys who get penpals only want a connection with the outside world...they want friends and a feeling of family. I can't speak for everyone back here, but I know for myself that having friends, being accepted and loved,helps me to feel normal and not like some kind of societal pariah. I suppose the irony is that we're deemed monsters and yet there are people free who are monsters themselves...but back to the media...they play a hand in this as well, exploiting inmates and free people, alike for a readership who suck from the teat of pseudo drama and scandal...Who really cares if Charles Manson got married? How about instead of trying to figure out ways to keep convicts from getting married or whatever fake scandal there is, you instead figure out ways of keeping people out of prison or off of death row? You know, like real world solutions. Fuck, instead of paying 60 dollars for a letter from some inmate, you could give that money to a worthwhile cause and help something instead of some sick ass dude exploiting both the victims and convicted. THAT is the real scandal.
Whew...got that out of my system! haha. I'm actually having a difficult time in forming any good thoughts to write now because my neighbor, while an alright dude, is driving me nuts from blasting his radio at SEVEN IN THE MORNING. I can't think. Hell, how can he think with what sounds like thunder rattling in a tin can?
Not sure when they're going to get to C-pod, the pod that I'm currently on for the shakedown. They have six pods to the building, and C-pod is in the middle. I'm guessing it'll be closer to Friday if they just started today...which will give us a bit of time to get everything in order. We're only allowed a limited amount of property, so it can be a bit stressful trying to guess what you're going to be able to keep and what the guards want to throw away.
Well, fantastic! Now they're turning off the water. Something about a burst pipe. A guy just asked the guard why he didn't give us a heads up so we could fill up our Gcups, or use the toilet, and he said, "It slipped my mind." I sure do appreciate your apathy Mr. Guard!