December 2015 - 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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December 28th, 2015

Okay...Let's try to get back into the groove of things. I've been so out of whack of late, I told myself yesterday that I had to pull myself out of this funk, and do something productive. I'm going to try, but dammit if I haven't been so frustrated with so many things, so many issues. A big part of it is that I'm sick and tired of this place. It has pushed me far beyond my patience and we are constantly being screwed over. Take my exchange with an officer this morning because ONCE AGAIN we were screwed out of recreation (we didn't get it yesterday because they're "short staffed"). But.....A refresher course first...

Our "new schedule" goes something like this: A/C/E pods go on an alternate day of B/D/F pods. So, that means that today, or this week rather, we should've gone (I'm currently on A pod) Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I was so emotionally exhausted over the weekend from the holidays, reflection, and general grief, that yesterday I told myself, "Okay, here's the program,'re going to bed early and Monday morning you're going to reboot. It is a new week, new day going into a new year. No more pussyfooting around". I went to bed at 9pm. My goal was to wake up at 5.30am when they are setting up the rec. schedule, do some yoga, meditate/pray, and begin anew. I ended up sleeping in until 6am and heard someone in the shower. My neighbour was awake and so I asked him why they weren't doing recreation. He didn't know. I wasn't going to let it get in the way of trying to start "anew", so I began my little yoga routine and after that, my workout. A few minutes later an officer came back and I asked what the deal was on recreation. I was told "We fucked up". I was not happy....

"What do you mean you fucked up?" Today is A pod's day of recreation. It shouldn't be difficult to correct".
But he came back with "Yeah, but we already started doing half of the pods on showers".
I wasn't going to leave it at that..."So...stop doing showers and do recreation".
"Well, rank told us to keep doing what we are doing".
"So, we're not getting rec? I said. And his response was
"Probably not".
"What is probably? I don't get probably. You mean no. Why is it so hard to just say no?"  
Blink. Blink. Blink. I continued, "You know, I find it interesting that when we - the inmates - fuck up, we're held accountable. If I do something I shouldn't have done I don't get away with a 'that's my bad, dude'. I get sent to discipline. But when you mess up, there's no accountability whatsoever. I just think it is a very interesting dichotomy we've got going on around here".  

The officer walked off and I went back to my workout, refusing to let it bring me down. But it is frustrating.  

I  know there are people out there who don't care about whether or not we get rec. or any privileges for that matter. There are people who think we should just sit in an empty cell until we all die. I wouldn't agree that it is a valid opinion, but hey, whatever inhumane soul you have, I'm not going to knock you for it. But the truth of the matter is that things like recreation keep people passive to a large extent. It keeps people from losing their minds. I would think it makes much more sense safety-wise to have certain privileges than to create a hostile environment where guys go ape shit against the staff, or they've got to deal with a bunch of mentally ill people. But what do I know. I'm not going to let it dictate the rest of my day. I have to push it out of my mind. Vent here and be done with it. I really am trying to get back into a feeling of positivity and focus. I'm tired of feeling like this. It is like being smothered by a thick wool blanket.

Our Christmas meal was good, brisket and chicken. I wouldn't say it was as much food as Thanksgiving Day but it wasn't paltry by any definition. I'm not Christian but I was grateful for the food. I ended up going to recreation late that evening and talking with a few guys and I gave away all of my comics to a guy who loves them, but has no support. I thought  it would be a nice thing to do and we're getting close to a lockdown so they had to go somewhere. It was kind of funny seeing the guards look when, after they put handcuffs on me, I grab this HUGE bundled up bag of comics. They were cool about it. I said "Look, it's Christmas Day and this guy has nothing to read. Let me take them to him". No problem whatsoever. I was happy about that.  

The weather has been absolutely crazy. Yesterday morning the temperature was close to 80 degrees. It  had been like that for days, just warm and sticky. Then, a huge storm hit us (along with half of Texas it seemed. Close to my hometown they were hit with tornadoes) and it was suddenly cold again. I don't even think it is 45 F right now. Rumors have death row going on lockdown soon so I'm trying to prepare for that. They've posted a document saying they are going to be very strict with how much personal property we can keep. The way that they typically do a lockdown is give us a red bread crate. All of our personal property has to fit within the red crate.

Well, except things like our electronics and legal work. Now, for the past few years if things spill over the edge of the red crate they would give us a pass on it, but they're saying those days are over. I should be fine, but you never know. I'm steadily whittling things down. I am by no means a pack rat. I cannot stand clutter and due the fact that I get moved around every couple of weeks, necessity dictates that I keep things light.

That being said, it is kind of amazing how a person can accumulate crap in a short period of time. One last thing, as part of getting out of my funk, I'm going to refocus on some of my writing for my memoirs. I've recently put together a re-write of my memoir "Tumultuous", so head over to the memoir tab on the site, and see what you think...I think it gives some good insight into so many of my bad choices in life, and things that went insanely wrong for me.  


December 21st, 2015

As I write this it is a warm and muggy Monday morning and I'm fighting off a head cold. I've been fortunate to have just a cold, because there are some guys back here that have a full blown flu virus. It started on Saturday and now I just have a leaky faucet of a nose...

There are rumors going around that in January the administration is going to try "group recreation", but we've been hearing these rumors for years. Just like T.V. rumors, they come and go.

The thing about recreation is that this building is not set up for it. It is an "Administrative Segregation" building, meaning that it is designed to isolate inmates. The day rooms aren't really capable of holding anymore than a couple of prisoners at a time. I can't imagine them trying to squeeze more than that in there. Plus, I just don't think the big wigs in Huntsville would go for it, either. I don't want to burst the bubble of the guys who really hope and want it but I've been doing this for way too long and I really don't think it will happen.  

Oh well, one can hope I suppose...


December 14th, 2015

Yesterday  was a tough day for me...It marked 15 years since I literally threw my life away by escaping from prison. Two dates in December are always very difficult for me: the 13th and the 24th. When I think back and wonder what the hell I was thinking, who I was and why I felt so desperate...It is just so hard.

Anyway, I went to rec and just moped about as everyone else listened to football. I wanted to get out of my cell because I felt closed in and it was bound to be quiet due to the fact that everyone was listening to football. I go out and I'm minding my own business when someone from a cell asks if I don't mind passing some food for him to another guy. I said "Sure, no problem" and went to help him out, did the "civic duty" and then went about my business, walking around in circles. Well, I guess the officer in the control room watched me and informed the floor officers and they came over to the bars at the dayroom and told me I had to go back to my cell early. I said "Why?" "Because you were passing stuff". I was angry and said "Why am I being singled out?" But I went back to my cell. It was something so stupid. I really don't get it. I mean, I could've gotten a disciplinary for something like that. I didn't, thank G-d, but geeze...

This morning I woke up feeling a bit better but was dreading the long day ahead of me due to the way that they are running recreation (rumor has it that in January things might go back to the normal routine) because it would've been so late in the afternoon when I got to go out. Fortunately, the outside rec yards were empty and it is a beautiful day. The sun is out, and it wasn't cold at all. It felt lovely. I jogged and did my work out and enjoyed the fresh air.

I ran across this poem the other day. I really liked it because it depicts exactly how I feel. I don't know the name of it but it is by Elizabeth Spires....

If my heart were scoured,
If my soul were remade
into a new and shining garment,
Then would I have to die ?
Lord, if perfection is death,
Let me stay here
A little while longer
Spotted and stained.


December 9th, 2015

I woke up this morning with a creative burst and a lot of energy...I actually have a theory on that and it is kind of gross, but what the heck, right? In the interest of full disclosure and all...haha...If you don't like poop stories then feel free to skip these next paragraphs!

So, it has been known by doctors for a while now that there is a connection between the stomach and the brain. Doctors and scientists have yet to mine all of the secrets of this, but they do know that certain bacterias and what you eat can affect mood, sleep, energy, etc...You hear about how health fanatics and Hollywood stars swear by juice cleanses and the like...Well, I'm here to tell you that shit is true!

Ever since Thanksgiving and all of the hot pockets I've made, I've been feeling sluggish and bloated. I've been blaming it on a number of things, but I've had zero energy to do much of anything. Today I dragged myself to recreation and forced myself to work out even though I really didn't want to. I thought that maybe an endorphin rush is what I needed. Well, after that I felt just as sluggish. A hard sweaty work out made me feel no better...I got to thinking and wondering why I was feeling so heavy. Then, I thought of a solution...There's a certain lactose syrup that medical gives to guys with regularity problems and it comes in a big brown bottle. The syrup itself is an amber color and very thick. Its tastes so sickly sweet that it will make you gag. It ain't nothing nice. I've had it before and me and a friend had taken to calling it "Lacto Blast" because of what it does to you...Imagine (or not!) your anus as a fire is that vicious! I knew this is what I needed. Well, not a fire hydrant ass but a good cleanse.

I called out in the day room "Does anyone have any lactulose?" - its professional name - and a guy said he did and so he fished my water bottle to his cell and poured me off about half a bottle's worth. I took it back to my cell and waited until the afternoon just to be safe. You do not want to get a surprise visit when you've taken this stuff because you can't stop it once it does its magic. About a year ago I had a near catastrophe on a Saturday evening when one of my closest friends decided to surprise me with a Saturday night visit. Before the guard had told me, I was seconds before drinking this stuff. I would've had no choice but to refuse the visit because it would've lead to a disaster of unnatural proportions!

At about four yesterday afternoon I drank it down and waited...It takes about an hour to kick in and boy when it did...Blast off! I had no idea that the human body could hold that much...well, shit. But you know what? In the interest of science I felt amazing afterwards and this evening I literally jumped and hit the ground running. to read again! Remember how I talked about some of the changes the new administration is making like keeping our cell in "compliance" etc...? Well, today is another new arbitrary rule...Ever since I've been here we've had no real means of throwing out our trash; no trash bags, no trash cans, etc...At one time they had stationed a large barrel on each section but the clean up crew, while hauling away the trash, never cleaned the barrel which lead to a huge ant infestation. The barrels were discontinued. Usually, what we do is throw out the garbage when the clean up crew shows up. There's a large enough gap at the side of the door to push out any necessary trash. The clean up crew picks it up and problem solved. It has been like this for YEARS! Not anymore. This morning an officer came around saying that if we threw our trash out the side of the door we would get a disciplinary case. When another guy asked the guard "How are we supposed to throw away our trash?" the guard had no answer for this. It is very hard not to get frustrated or even angry at some of the stupid shit they do. Like for example another new "policy" they've started to do: when we leave the cell we are always strip searched - this has been the case since the beginning of my time here. Typically, they hand your clothes back to you and you get dressed if you're going to a visit or wherever. if you're going to rec they hand you back your underwear and your shoes and you walk to recreation like that. Well, now the officers don't hand your shoes back to you. They place them outside of the door on the filthy walk way and you step out backwards, I should add, and "slip" into your shoes. You can't use your hands because you're handcuffed which inevitably leads to a balance control problem and like a toddler with poor motor skills you just kind of wobble around trying to get your shoes on while an officer holds your arm and looks at you stupidly. Fun!

I've heard some rumblings from a few guys back here who used to go to F-pod (the discipline pod) for all manners of assaults and use of forces...Over the years they've chilled out a bit, but they are getting to that point where they're starting to rip and roar again. They're fed up and while I don't condone violence in any shape, form, or fashion, I can totally understand their frustration. As it stands right now with the way the new administration is implementing these new policies in the name of "security", and guys are fed up. The guards don't want to work here because now their safety is at risk and are quitting EN MASSE, we aren't guaranteed recreation or even showers on a regular basis. It's freaking retarded.

I've been locked up half of my natural life and I've been through so many different changes and transitions in TDCJ. You would  think a person gets used to the way they run this place, but you don't! I'm not the smartest guy in the world but I think that if I was running a business or prison I would try to put into place people who knew what worked and didn't work in terms of keeping a smooth running operation. And if I was an administrator in Huntsville or even a committee member for criminal justice in Austin, and noticed that I couldn't keep people working or holding a position for very long, the logical thing to do would be to review the system as a whole, and the policies that are implemented. Livingston, Texas has almost no industry, no businesses. The people who live in Livingston have very few job options, working at Polunsky being one of them. And even in this piss poor county, when people would rather shovel horse shit and work at McDonalds than in a prison, you should realize that maybe - just maybe - you have a problem with the institution as a whole.  But what do I know?


December 8th, 2015

Tuesday morning and I'm sitting in my cell trying to figure out what I want to write about...It has been so difficult to write anything of substance lately. My brain feels cloudy, and I guess it could be a minor depression, I don't know...Well, yeah, a little bit and I do know why...It's one of those things I can't really do anything about or even solve the "issue", I know it will pass...eventually. I'm just too neurotic to let it move away on its own. I have that problem. Holding onto thoughts way past their shelf life. Some people can process it and be done with it, but my brain doesn't work like that.  

I'm not a person who really holds grudges. I don't have "enemies" and I try not to hate anyone. When I get angry about something someone has done I try to look at the subject matter from their perspective. I tend to psychoanalyze the person, consider their background, their life decisions and figure out why they do the things they do. Just as I do with myself when I do something dumb. I mean, I can count a million times I've said to myself "Geeze, Randy why did you just do that?" But, it becomes increasingly more difficult to not hold a grudge when a person pokes and prods, makes baseless accusations and in general puts your heart and soul through the ringer over a period of years. You try to ignore it, because in time they will vanish again. You forget and get in this peaceful lull and then BAM! They pop right back up and throw more craziness at you. I'm tired of getting pulled into crazyland. Stop forcing me on the damn train with you! I once cared for this person, no matter how badly things fell apart. No matter how greatly it hurt. I refused to think bad things of them. But then as the truth of who they really were was revealed and the stupid accusations and the toying with my heart like a freaking cat plays with a ball of yarn...And then...they go and attack my brother who is dealing with his own problems and mental health issues, and a brother who is on death row - you attack him and hurt him...Enough is enough!

GO AWAY! LEAVE ME ALONE! I'm done. You no longer exist to me. Bye-Bye. Please...don't make me hate you. Anyways, I had to get that off of my chest. On a lighter note, hey, this is my journal, my thoughts and my way of dealing with a deluge of crap...So, if you've been keeping up with this journal you know I'm totally stoked about the new Star Wars movie. And in light of that I thought I would share a very embarassing Star Wars story that happened when I was about 6 years old and the very first Halloween that I can remember. So came Halloween. Can you guess who I wanted to be?  None other than Luke Mother lovin' Skywalker...In the 80's they had these cheap plastic costumes; you could buy them straight off the rack and they contained a really awful mask with an elastic band and usually some kind of plastic clothing. My dad goes out and buys the costume. I get the package, tear it open and something about the mask doesn't quite look right. It was so cheaply painted that yes, it could be Luke could be princess Leia...the costume itself was the mask and this plastic camouflage poncho was to recreate the battle gear that they wore on the moon of Endor. My dad was adamant that it was Luke. I still wasn't sure...My kindergarten class was having a Halloween party and we could wear our costumes if we wanted and so, going on the assurances of my dad I wore the costume. I show up, mask on, totally feeling the Force and one of the kids says...

"Why are you dressed up like Princess Leia?"
"I'm not! I'm Luke Skywalker!" Other kids chime in and said...
"You're dressed like a girl! You are princess  Leia!" I was embarrassed and wanted to hide. Sigh...I can look back at it with a certain humor.  

The recreation schedule is still out of whack...I'm kind of tired of getting all worked up about it. I went outside yesterday morning and even though it was cold, still managed to play some basketball winning 16-4. We don't have recreation today but tomorrow we will be (if I don't get moved tonight) back outside. The one thing that I kind of like about this new schedule is that we do get to go to recreation on Sundays again. For years that day was "off" for the whole building but now we can get out of our cells. I've been taking full advantage of it just to get out and jog. A lot of guys don't bother going because it is a football day and they don't want to miss the game. I don't want to be stuck in a cell.

All else is so-so. I'm trying to find a groove and things to write about. It isn't that I have writers brain is just a bit foggy. I've gotta shake the  fog off. I'm stepping off of the choo-choo train into crazyland.


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