I think this has been one of the most difficult periods of my life, over the past 16 years. I've had some real humdingers but this definitely goes in the top five. It just seems to be one event after another and I really wanted the new year to start off with hope and promise. I joke about Trump ushering in the end of the world, but fuck, if it really doesn't feel like it right now.
Where to even begin? It started two months ago, when I moved into this godforsaken cell. At the time I was living on A-pod, and I'd had a visit on a Friday afternoon; when I came back from visit and stepped onto the death row building, an officer said that I was moved to C-pod while at my visit. I said "whoa...you already moved my property?" I begin thinking about things going missing, lazy guards haphazardly throwing my stuff into a move buggy and then chucking it all haphazardly into my cell. My mind was reeling and I felt like I was being kidnapped and whisked away! When I got to C-pod the guards walked me to 34 cell and I could see that everything was piled on top of the metal bunk. It didn't look nice and neat, but it did look like everything was there. I walked in, let them take the handcuffs off and looked around the cell. It was filthy! I could see mold covering the back wall, dirt and dust bunnies the size of tumbleweeds on the floor, the toilet looked like something out of a horror movie. I half expected a clawed hand to pop out of it and drag me down. I probably would've let it had I known what was to come over the next two months.
Anyways, I took a deep breath and began cleaning which took about three hours. I was not happy. I generally tell myself that I can deal with insanity on a particular section or cell because I rarely ever spend more than two weeks there. It actually makes life a whole lot easier to live like that. A messed up cell? I'll be okay...It's only two weeks. Irritating neighbors? Only have to put up with it for two weeks. But as problems mounted, two weeks turned into three, three turned into a month and a month into two. Ten weeks I've been in this purgatory! I've seen two guys get stabbed right in front my cell (well, not really stabbed, but the other inmates sure were trying hard for it to be a stabbing). People yelling and screaming at each other, guards screwing people over. It is like I've had a front row seat to madness...Problems only got worse when my sink's drain began to back up, and this nasty black water began to rise from the drain, and I raised holy hell to get it fixed. The Sergeant called down an emergency plumber to fix it, and he did fix it, but in the process, he ended up busting another pipe...The exchange went like this:
"Your sink drainin' now?"
I said "Yeah...but there's freakin' water coming from under my toilet. What the hell?"
And he came back with "Oh yeah, I think I broke something, and I don't have the parts to fix it. We'll get back down here tomorrow. Gotta go!"
So, "Tomorrow" turned into 3 1/2 weeks! I battled water every day, and I complained to everyone: a Major, the Warden, anyone I could and it was like "Yeeeeeaaaaahhhhh...We'll look into." Look into it? You can't see the puddle of water in my cell? I'm starting to believe that C-pod was built upon an ancient native american burial ground and the spirits are pissed.
But all of that is small potatoes to the worst of it. Two weeks ago I received a letter that my best friend David passed away from a heart attack. I've written about him in the past...When I first got into this whole mess with the escape and everything else, he wrote to me out of the blue - 16 years ago. It was a very simple and kind letter that basically said, "Hey, inspite of everything that is going on, you're a human being and I'm praying for you." I can't really remember what I thought at the time, but I did respond and thank him for the kind words. We began to write, and over the years formed almost a father/son like relationship. He encouraged me to write, and he was an English teacher at one time, so guided me in finding my own voice. He encouraged me to write my thoughts down (another friend also encouraged and offered to start publishing them on their website which turned into the first incarnation of my website) and try to process things. In my life there hasn't been anyone who was more loyal, more encouraging, and loving than David.
David was a Marine, and he would use a latin saying that embodies a Marine: "Semper Fi", meaning "Always Faithful". He closed every letter with that. I began to close my letters to him with that as well. Over the past few years I knew he was slowing down. It was mostly due to a wound he suffered during the Vietnam war, but he had a lot of aches and pains. I'd encourage him to at least use his treadmill and keep active. What is so strange about all of this is that I think he knew that his life was winding down. I say that because about two weeks before I received word that he died, he told me in a letter: "I'm going to have a friend contact you if anything happens to me." He also made a few extravagant purchases that left me scratching my head. He'd just bought a new television last fall, a pretty fancy one, and then in that same letter telling me about having a friend contact me, he said he bought a 4K flatscreen and he knew he didn't need it, but what the heck.
When I first received the letter about his death I didn't recognize the name. It was from the same town as David but it didn't register that this was the friend. In fact, I thought "Why is David sending me a letter from someone else?" I opened it and...I stared at the words for a few minutes. I thought, I JUST heard from him...How could he be gone? I was confused. It took about 30 minutes for the news to hit me and when it did it was like a bag of bricks came crashing down on me. I've cried in the past. I get teary eyed over certain events or stories, but my whole entire body began to shake. My mentor, my friend, even father-like...He was gone.
I still half expect to get a letter from him when they pass out mail. Last week I received another letter from his friend with a copy of his will and that was touching. I remember having a conversation with David years ago about being killed by the state; I've always had a fear of dying alone...I've had it since I first experienced a death with my grandfather's passing. But on death row, one of my biggest concerns was not having a proper funeral, and having to be buried under some inmate number in a State prison cemetery. I NEVER want that to happen. Yeah, it is just a body and what does it matter, but the thought, the very idea of this State having possession over ME for the rest of time? No fucking way. It was just one of many conversations we shared over the years.
When I read the will, under article II, specific gifts, the first paragraph says this: "It is my heartfelt intention that during my lifetime I shall make all necessary arrangements, including payment in advance, for a funeral service and a burial plot for my friend, Randy Halprin, an inmate currently residing in Polunsky Unit, located in Livingston, Texas 77351. If I have not yet accomplished this intention at the date of my death, this is my first bequest. I was really touched by the gesture. I've long decided that I would rather be cremated than buried, but still...The fact that he never forgot our conversation and my worries, is proof alone of the kind of man he was.
Semper Fi, David.
March 1st, 2017
I can't seem to catch any kind of break...After having a semi decent weekend of just relaxing and feeling like things were looking up a bit we woke up Monday morning to learn that we were on lockdown, and that this one would be a long one. I don't mind a short lockdown; it gives you a chance to catch up on things in relative peace and quiet. I don't like being stuck in the cell 24/7 or having to take a bird bath out of my sink because we can't get a shower every single day, but it is tolerable, for a short period of time. The longer one is cooped up in a cell, the more stir crazy you can get; you start feeling like Jack Nicholson's character in "The Shining". You start seeing creepy little twins pop out of the corner of your eye...Voices start whispering to you. Next thing you know you're stripping buck naked and howling at the moon outside of your window. Okay, okay...maybe it isn't that severe, but man...it can suck!
So, here's what I know thus far about the shakedown: they're being very thorough going through every single item. The're also taking the inmates off the pod and putting them on the outside recreation yard far away from their items being searched. Before, they would just throw us in the shower and go into our cells and search. What worries me about this current practice is you have no idea what the officer is doing with your property. You don't know what they are going to throw away or let you keep. I've always told myself that nothing that I "own" really belongs to me. The guards can take anything they want for any reason. It sucks when you have no control or real ownership over anything. But it is what it is and unfortunately it's part of being in prison. To be continued...
I'm so glad spring is here. I've been watching the horses outside of my window and the birds are returning and the grass is green. It sucks that I'm trapped inside, but I'm grateful for the window.
March 5th, 2017
Man...did the media really say, the day after Trump's State of the Union Speech, that this was a "correction course" and he seemed so "presidential"??? And then...more Russian allegations with our Attorney General and this weekend Trump gets on twitter and accuses Obama of wire tapping him and then berates Arnold Schwartzenegger? I mean, come on people! You think that just because he can read a speech that someone else wrote for him, he suddenly changed from the buffoon he is to "presidential" in one night? Madness! We've got to put up with four years of this crap...
So, as I write this, it's Sunday morning and a bit cool, wet and grey. We've been on lockdown for a week now and they've only finished two pods. They've got the shakedown tables and stuff on our pod but haven't started it yet. This time around they're doing it a bit differently. For the past couple of years it was done with a relative speediness. They were giving us a large red crate to pack our personal property into. If you had too much property they would confiscate anything that didn't fit into the red crate. But because I move around on a regular basis, my personal property is fairly limited anyway...So, outside of anything I feel is really important, I don't keep excess items, and any books or comics I receive, I give away to others once I've finished with them.
Anyway, this time round, we have to pack everything into bags. Then, they take the inmates off their pod and hold them outside on the rec yards of another pod. Then, for the next three hours or so they spend time going through every single personal item, piece of paper, books - whatever you have. Once it has been thoroughly searched, they bring you back to your cell. Apparently the guards are throwing away a lot of paper work and other stuff, which is not going down well with inmates. Some guys are also getting really upset because they are going through the legal work of inmates outside of their presence. Prison policy is that the guards cannot go through an inmate's legal work without having that inmate in front of them. And the guards, whilst allowed to "search" it, cannot read the actual content. We don't know that they're not doing that when we are taken to another pod and far away from our legal work. In theory, the rule is to protect client/attorney confidentiality. The State (or the Defense) is entitled to the knowledge of anything filed or any evidence being presented. However, there is no entitlement to appeal or trial strategy or what we share with our attorneys in letters or verbally. That is protected by law. A few guys have filed grievances about this concern but the process takes a month and by then the lockdown will be over.
I'm not so much concerned about losing anything on a paper level as I am my electronics - those things are my sanity! I always tell people that nothing we buy or "own" really belongs to us. The guards can take, at any time, anything we "own" for any reason or no reason at all. I have conceded this fact many years ago.
I'll know more tomorrow. To be continued!
March 8th, 2017
So much on my mind today...Not even sure where to begin...Yesterday was such a long and exhausting day! It started at 5am with a guard waking me up, saying,
"Huh? What?" I said, pulling the sock that keeps the light out, away from my eyes. I was sleeping so well the sudden interruption left me confused...
"Are you okay?" she said again. I looked at the clock on my radio and said "Well, I was until you woke me up. What the hell?"...
"Oh, just checkin' on ya"! she said. "You guys are about to have your shakedown so go head and get to packin' your stuff".
Why the hell was she so chipper at five in the morning and why the hell would I be chipper about facing a shakedown? I groaned a fuuuuuccccckkkkk, kicked off my blanket and sat at the edge of my bunk. I grabbed my cup, bag of coffee and poured a little extra in just for good measure. Heated up my water and slammed it down. I noticed red onion sacks had been shoved into my door and so I grabbed them and threw them on the floor, brushed my teeth and started organizing things. Another guard came around yelling "Everything in the bags! Legal, all property except state issued items or your electronics. Leave that in your cell!" One guy started yelling upstairs,
"Hey, you can't look at our legal stuff! Are you sure that goes into the bags?"
"Yes. Everything means everything!" The guard yelled back.
I sat down on the ground and began to pack my stuff. It is really quite the simple process for me as I'm used to moving around/packing so much. There was a time when I was doing it every two weeks. I had a system. I can pack in about 15 minutes flat. This goes there, that goes there. Wham bam. Done.
At about 6:55am, guards came pouring into our section like a swarm of bees. They began to open food slots, strip inmates out, place the hand cuffs on us and take us out of our cell. Pure chaos. I wasn't sure if they'd put us outside on account of touch and go rain storms, or put us in the hallways where there are tiny little booths used for psych examinations or legal booths for meetings between approved inmates to discuss legal work. I wasn't too thrilled about the idea of being stuck in a tiny booth, in just boxer shorts, for a long time, but it turned out we were headed outside. After they moved us through the metal detector I was lead to the outside rec yard. The hand cuffs removed and I was left to wait in dread as our property was ransacked.
March 13th, 2017
I crawled out of bed at about 6am this morning as the guards began to do showers - we're still on lockdown so our shower days are Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I always find it odd that every single officer will ask "You going to shower today?" on the days we can shower. Hmmm. Let me think about that one...I've not been able to scrub my nuts for the last two days and I won't be able to do so until Wednesday...Yeah, I think I'll be cool going five days without a shower! Seriously, every single person except the mentally ill goes to the shower on the designated shower day! It's like when the guards are passing out the juice and I'm standing at the door like Pavlov's dog with a cup in my hand, eager for a tasty cool beverage (I'm exaggerating calling it "tasty" of course...it's definitely cool, but something more akin to squirrel piss) and they still ask "Want some juice?" Nah, I'll pass. I just like standing at the door twirling a cup around and pretending to be Wyatt Earp. Sheesh!
So, I get up and stretch, drink a cup of coffee (gotta be careful...rations are getting low!) before I start exercising...Then they get me in line for the shower. When I checked the sink, the water was warm so after working out I was looking forward to a nice hot shower, but I ended up getting the exact opposite...The water was freezing! But it woke me up anyway, so I can't complain about that.
I'm guessing we'll be on lockdown for another week because they still have to shakedown E and F pod as well as 7, 8, 10 and 11 buildings. The unit is split up into two halves: B side is Ad-Seg/Death row, medical, pre-hearing detention, closed custody, and medium custody, and A side is all general population buildings. B side is designed for more restrictive levels.
Over the weekend I spent a lot of time thinking about the Law of Parties. It can be difficult to get people to understand and support someone in my position; often, people will agree that I don't deserve to be on death row for something I didn't do...I did escape from prison, I robbed, and I was associated with the "Texas 7" label...I get that. I'm aware of how the courts and politicians want nothing to do with that because it's horrible. It looks really bad...But the bigger question is this...If you KNOW someone didn't kill anyone why shrug your shoulders like "I don't want any part of that...it's too political!"
I recently read an article published in early February, where Jeff Woods' case was being discussed...It talked about the Law of Parties, and how he had gone into the robbery as a willing participant - the getaway driver - but because he had no way of preventing or even knowing that his friend would kill someone, it would be unconscionable to kill him for something he had no control over. The article even stated that the majority of Texans believe he shouldn't be executed either! There's a difference between someone who actively participates in a killing, encourages whoever they're with by saying things like "shoot his ass", or even threatens a person with killing them if they don't follow their demands, and someone who is just "there", and has no way of knowing what anyone else is going to do. Being involved in a robbery isn't enough to condemn someone by saying "he should've known"...Even statistics don't support that argument. You can check that out by looking up the FBI's Uniform Crime Report; it's the gold standard in crime statistics. Nobody can read another person's mind!
The article also quotes Shannon Edmonds from the Texas District and County Attorneys' Association as saying, "Prosecutors want to have as many tools available to them as possible, in some of these heinous crimes." What she said was in reference to the Texas 7 and a reason for defending the Law of Parties. But again, if you KNOW I didn't do it...If all of my co-defendants have given statements that Patrick Murphy and myself weren't the shooters...If it's known that out of the guns found only five were fired/used...With all of that known, why then is the "Law of Parties" a justification for executing me? What Ms Shannon very obviously failed to mention, is the way prosecutors like to use the LOP as a means of enticing co-defendants to snitch on one another...They tell the various individuals in the "group", "We can kill you all...unless you start telling us who did what..." I should make it known here that this is something that wasn't used as an option in our case...They just wanted to get us all. Period. Anyway, the downside of using snitching, is that people will start to point fingers at each other, and will lie to save their own ass! There's also the unjust outcome of the actual killer getting a life sentence, while the person who didn't kill anyone is sentenced to death...How is that fair? How is that justice? It doesn't explain it by saying "Well, he did rob, so he should have known!" There's just no justification for that whatsoever!
Puting my intitial offence and the escape aside for a moment...The question remains: should I be executed for something I didn't do? Should I be killed for something I didn't anticipate, didn't know was going to happen, or want to happen? Should I be killed because instead of taking part in the shooting, I took off running putting myself in the line of fire, and ending up shot in the foot? What makes my case any different from any other person sent to death row - unjustly - under the Law of Parties? Lock me up forever if you must...But don't sit idly by and let them kill me for something I didn't do! I beg of you!
It's now noon, and I'm waiting on lunch...My neighbor "Big White" has been giving me his peanut butter and jelly sandwiches which I'm kind of surprised about because he's a big dude, and big dudes don't usually give up their food! But seriously, he's a really good guy with a big heart, and I appreciate having him around. I told him when we come off of lockdown I'll cook us up some hot pockets. It's the least I can do to show some gratitude.
Guess I'll do some reading now. Starting to get bored...
April 24th, 2017
Today is one of those weird days. I'm not really depressed, but I'm not exactly bouncing off the walls with energy and excitement. I feel like I'm sort of existing and that is it. I hate when I feel this way..It's like something in my life is missing and I'm not exactly sure what it is, and believe me, it isn't Jesus before someone mumbles it to their computer screen! That joke never gets old!...No, it isn't that. I just feel...so distant from everything. Like I'm operating in another galaxy. Superficially I have my needs taken care of, I suppose; it isn't for a lack of anything materially. It isn't even being stuck in a cell 22 hours out of the day, though it could be a miniscule part of it...I just need something...here.
I'm also feeling trapped in a sense and I have NO clue where that feeling is coming from or what it even means. In a way I feel like an automaton and I'm just operating on some pre programmed route in my life, going through the motions. Today I feel like I'm pretending. Yeah, that is the feeling. I'm pretending to be "alive". It comes and goes and I'm not sure what could make it just go away, but at least I can acknowledge it.
May 1st, 2017
May 1st...wow...time really does fly. I woke up at about 5:15 a.m. and got ready for recreation when it dawned on me that we're five freakin' months into the new year. Moving much too fast.
Last week I was able to get outside five days in a row which is a rarity. Most weeks you're lucky to get out twice but for whatever reason I had the good fortune of getting lots of sun. Only on one of those days did we get a bit of rain and that was actually a pretty amazing experience because it had been bright and sunny, when suddenly clouds appeared out of nowhere and they were really dark. The wind picked up shortly after, and it began to feel apocalyptic. Thunder, lightning, wind...When it rained it came down hard but while it was cold, the rain it smelled delightful and about ten minutes later a few clouds cleared out and the sun broke through as it rained. The drops looked like diamonds falling from the sky. Really remarkable. Then it went back to being sunny and warm.
On Friday I went out and it was hot and humid. I ended up playing 60 games of basketball with one of the best guys to play the game and got my butt handed to me soundly with a 58-2 game count. What can you do? I had to do the walk of shame back to my cell when it was all said and done.
On the weekend I just listened to my radio all day long and read. Not much excitement there. Lately I've had little to say...I'm hoping to find some inspiration again soon...
May 2nd, 2017
Have you ever had a full night's sleep, I mean really slept hard...and wake up still exhausted and cranky? Maybe it is too much exercise as I've been working out like a mad man to relieve stress and take out my frustrations...I don't know. I just felt so blah this morning.
I'm actually starting to feel a bit better as the day goes on, but a little upset that I seem to be getting screwed out of getting outside. I'm trying to put it into perspective and be grateful that last week I was fortunate enough to get outside five days in a row, but still...I'm looking outside of my window and at this beautiful sunny day, magpies picking around in the grass, butterflies everywhere and all these little black love bugs literally making love mid flight and thinking damn...I NEED to be outside! Sigh...
So...I want to get something off my chest for any new readers to my journals...It seems like one of the first things people seem to read about me when they research me is this cursed article from D-Magazine that was written like six freakin' years ago. For the record: one, that article is full of half truths, conversations taken waaaaaaaaay out of context and was purely a smear piece to try to derail my appeals process and hearings at the time. The prosecutors leaked many of my phone calls between me and my EX wife to a reporter for purely sensational reasons. It was a hack piece pure and simple. I broke no rules back in county jail and did nothing wrong. Maybe I was a little naive and talked much too freely to someone I loved back then, but geeze, who doesn't? So take it with a grain of salt and read the many years of these journals to get a clearer picture of who I am, not what they say I am or try to frame me to be...I wish that damn article would just disappear. It has been the bane of my existence.
May 8th, 2017
At what point does hope become delusion? That is a question I've been thinking about a lot over the past few weeks. I consider myself an optimistic person; I'm realistic and cautious, but to keep my own sanity I have to hold onto a certain level of optimism. What good is it to carry around the weight and misery of pessimism? I can't help but wonder if sometimes the majority of us back here aren't delusional when it comes to our ultimate fates. Imagine this scenario...there's a crack in the Hoover dam, and at some point it's going to give...But if you can just hold it long enough to get it fixed you might have a chance to keep the dam from breaking and sweeping you away in a flash flood. The rational part of your brain is telling you "Dude...you're just a single person; your hand is not going to hold that water back. Better grab a canoe and get ready!" But then another part of your brain is like "Don't listen to him! People have done supernatural shit before. There's always a chance!"
So here's the situation at hand...We're on death row and the Hoover dam is about to burst. What do we do? I've been thinking about it because several of people I consider friends back here are close to or are about to receive executions dates. One of them says he's very much at peace with the situation and "whatever is going to happen will happen". The zen approach, I guess. Another is absolutely delusional in what he thinks he will accomplish in 90 days to prevent his demise. There's hope and then there's loony tune level hope and that is what he has. I tend to say to myself "Man, better face reality real soon cause shit is real around here". I've even half rolled my eyes when people believe that God is personally going to intervene in their execution.
But am I any different? When I first got to death row I remember my first day in the day room at recreation. I was still trying to process everything that happened in my trial, and just the very idea of being on death row when I didn't even kill anyone. It was a total mind fuck and I thought "they're not going to kill me...they can't!" So, here I am a stranger in a strange land walking around the day room when a guy comes to his door and strikes up a conversation. He says "You're that Texas 7 guy they just sent here yesterday, right?" I said "yeah, my name is Randy". Then he said "You think you can win your appeals?" Looking at him confidently, I said "Yeah. I do. They really fucked me over". Calmly he said, "Dude, somebody has to be the voice of fuckin' reason here so I guess I have that duty. You're gonna die. They are gonna kill your ass dead". I really didn't know what to say after that. He didn't say it with malice, just matter of factly. I shrugged my shoulders and said "Yeah. Maybe. I hope not though".
May 14th, 2017
Happy Mothers Day to all of the moms out there...I was sitting here thinking about my own mom...Well, I should make a distinction, I'm adopted. I have a biological mother with whom I have met and maybe in another life could have possibly developed a bond with, but have little emotional connection to. My adopted mother, however, even after going over 20 years without seeing or talking to her, I still feel a huge connection with her. She'll always be my mother and I look back on our memories with fondness and love. Sometimes giggles and even a "yikes, I really pissed her off that day!"
I've written before about how I think my mom's taste in comedy helped shape my own; I grew up on Saturday Night Live, the comedy channel, and 80's movies. My love of books came from my mom as well. One thing we always did together was either go to the library or the book store and come back home with a huge stack of books. For a kid who didn't even learn his ABCs until he was 5 1/2 years old, I latched onto reading and absorbed every word like a sponge. I was reading above a highschool level in elementary school and reading much of my mom and dad's old books on our living room book shelf. If I wanted a book my mom never refused me.
She rarely lost her temper with me, but when she did...There are two specific moments I remember the most. I was about 12 years old and I was in my room playing my stereo. My room wasn't too far from the living room where my mom was watching T.V. and she walked in and said "Turn it down". I protested saying that it wasn't even that loud. She said she could hear it in the living room. I went over to the shelf it was on and lowered the volume. She walked out, went back to the living room and I turned it right back up. Here she comes again...
"Turn. It. Down" she demanded.
"But mom! It's not even that loud!" I cried.
"I don't care. It stays down or I'll take it."
"Mom!" I walked over and turned it down though. She left and for about 10 minutes I left it down. Then, thinking I'd tricked her, slowly turned it back up. She stormed back in...
"That's it, Randy! It's mine now".
"You can't take it! It's mine!" I yelled.
"Really? I'll break the damn thing if I want. I bought it!"
"Well, break it then! I dare you!" Lesson as a kid: never dare your mom to do something thinking she won't. She walked over to the shelf, snatched it up. I remember seeing my little speakers tumble over and she literally smashed it on the ground. The arm to the record player broke off. I just stood there stunned. She left it right on the ground and stormed off. I picked it up and fortunately it wasn't seriously damaged, but believe me, I never turned it up again.
Another time was when I was 13, actually not too far from my Bar Mitzvah, I can't remember what caused our argument, but she was mad and I was mad and it lead to a stand off. I was never an aggressive or violent kid but I made a threat of kicking a hole in the wall, on this occasion...She said "Do it then and see what happens next." In my defense, I never intended to really kick the wall but I pulled my leg back, swung my foot towards the wall, fully intending to stop my foot just short of the mark. But that isn't what happened...I felt my foot go right through the sheetrock. My mom's eyes go wide and all I could say was "Oh...shit." No need to go into details about what happened next.
Years later, and after all that has transpired with me and my family, and the years of silence, I love my mom just as much as I loved her then. She's my mom. That will never change.
Happy Mothers Day.
May 21st, 2017
I've been kind of half assing these journals lately. I just haven't had a whole lot of inspiration or anything, I suppose. Kind of existing, not really depressed but not whole heartedly enthusiastic about life on death row either. I'm happy that many guys are now receiving action from a recent Supreme Court ruling, which will finally force the state of Texas to let many mentally retarded inmates off death row, commuting their sentences to life imprisonment. That's great! But it's also annoying to be sitting on death row for something you didn't even participate in and still have death looming over your head, while some just figured out a way to beat the system. Just being honest about it. Whatever works, I guess.
Friday was a mess of a day! It was commissary and I was in the day room 3rd round. By far the busiest part of the day in terms of passing things like books, etc to other guys. Add commissary to the mix and it tailspins into chaos very easily because guys want to send food to friends or cook for others, or send things to guys who didn't make store. It's understood that as a community, when a person is in the day room and they need to get something to another person, we all help get it where it needs to go. It's a civil duty to an extent. Though, there's always a risk that certain officers won't take too kindly to us passing things around, because it is against the rules. Most just turn a blind eye though cause they know most aren't stupid enough to try to pass something that is dangerous or to hurt someone, and it's just food or books. It keeps others passive and the officers have less to worry about.
So, here I am, in the dayroom helping out when the guard in the control center flashes the lights on me and tells me to stop. I throw my hands up in the air, like awww shucks, you got me, and when she turns around, I finish passing. Well, one guy he gets a bag of snacks stuck on the walkway. I've got to help get this off of the walkway or else someone could confiscate it. I get the guy's line and try to "fish" it. Lights flash again. I'm getting frustrated and put the fishing line down and start pacing around the day room until she isn't watching me again. This bag is heavy and it isn't budging and I'm getting more frustrated. Another guy upstairs apparently loses a pen on the walkway and is yelling for me to help get the pen. I say "Hold on ! Let me get this off of the run!" I go back to trying to get the bag. Dude keeps yelling "Randy, come on! Help me get the pen!" Finally, irritated, I snap and say "Screw the pen! If I have to I'll replace the pen for you! Let me get this freakin' food off of the run!"
Well, much time has passed and the bag is still stuck. Count time is announced and the lady in the control room is walking on the floor. She sees the bag and says "You need to get that off of the run or else it's gone". I politely say "What do you think I've been trying to do?" Then she says "Well, it needs to be gone. If I come back through and it's still there, it is gone. I ain't losing my job for you. Oh and you've got two warnings. Number three and you get a case". I just looked at her and said "Well, you might as well start doing the paper work cause I'm gonna get number three". She walks off and I finally get the bag off of the run. I send it where it is going, climb the bars to two row, help the guy get his pen and then jump back down and told everyone "okay...I think I'm done here. No more stress please!"
I didn't get a case, but man, it was chaotic. That was enough excitement for one day.
The weekend has been pretty boring. Just taking it easy, reading and listening to the radio.
May 27th, 2017
Sometimes in life we are called to step out of our comfort zones and act on what we feel in our heart is the right thing to do. To speak out against things we see as wrong. Sometimes it requires civil disobedience and earlier today I was put in a position where I had to take an action on something I felt was wrong.
It started sometime early in the morning. I don't know why the officers on our pod began to pick on this one particular guy upstairs in the cell above me, but I knew he was trying to get a shower and they wouldn't let him. The guy suffers from mental illness and while it is mild, he's still highly paranoid and a bit schizophrenic, and for this a lot of guys back here think he's "weird" or not worth their time. I've always been polite to him and will talk and listen to his conspiracy theories, but that was about as far as I'd ever take it.
When lunch came I heard him screaming about being passed up on a sack lunch (the kitchen had been temporarily closed earlier Friday because an inspection team is coming and they wanted to scrub the kitchen before they showed up) and again, I wondered what that was all about. He wasn't banging, he wasn't making threats, just asking the guards why they skipped him on his meal.
By dinner time, we were getting hot meals again and once again he was yelling about the guards not feeding him. I thought to myself, okay, this has my attention now, I'm going to ask the guards what is going on, why they weren't feeding him. When they came to my cell I said "Are you going to feed that man upstairs? You can't deny him food". They both looked at each other and the male officer said "No". I said "Why not?" To which he replied "Well, the Sergeant told us not to."
I knew this was bullshit so after I grabbed my tray, I just reacted and stuck my arm out of the slot and said "Well, we're about to find out if that is true. You can't deny a man food." I was kind of shocked at my own action. In my mind this wasn't even a part of the plan. But intuitively my heart just told me this was the only way to get the guy upstairs something to eat. Believe me, a part of me was like "Shit Randy! You're going to F-pod now...90 freakin' days on level 2". Don't get me wrong, I've always spoken out against things I see as just wrong and I've been a smart ass to guards about it, but never actually taken an action that jeopardized my "comforts" as level 1...I was flying blind. The other part of me just kept saying "You're in the right on this. So what? 90 days isn't shit. You're in the right."
What was funny at this point was when I "jacked" the food slot, the female officer looked at me in disbelief and told the officer with her "He just jacked the slot!" The other officer seeing my arm hanging out of the food slot looks at her and says "He did what?" Like he couldn't believe it either. I then spoke up and said "Look, there's an easy resolution to all of this where no one gets in trouble. Just feed the man. That is all you have to do." They decided to call the rank.
When the Sergeant came to my cell I stood up, allowed him to close the food slot and he said "What's going on?"
"In 13 years I've never done this. The man upstairs in 51 cell hasn't had a shower, a lunch or dinner because these officers said YOU told them not to. I just want that man to get a meal. That is all." He looked at me and said "I never said that and he'll get a meal. I promise you. But let me ask you this, if they write a disciplinary case on you, is that your statement?" So I said "Sure. I understand the consequences but I know I did the right thing. It was the only way to get you down here."
And guess what? The man did get fed. After that I've since waited to see if I've received a case. Because it is a holiday weekend the case - assuming it was written - wouldn't be processed until Tuesday so...I'm just waiting. I mean, look, I don't want to do 90 days and I'm honestly sacrifing and putting any potential visits in that 90 day period at risk, but again...I did what was right. It's a freakin' crime to try to starve someone. If the goal of "Justice" is to equally hold everyone accountable under the law...then why a double standard? Why do the enforcers get to consistently break/bend, stretch or violate the law while those who live under the rule of law are punished sometimes to the extreme?
We'll see what happens.
May 29th, 2017
Memorial day. I won't know about the case until tomorrow and when I went to rec. earlier this morning some guys were asking me why I helped that "loser" out. I said "Look, I'm just going to say this: if they'll do it to him, they'll do it to you or me and we honestly let these officers get away with too much. They're always stretching and pushing to see how far they can go. I stood on principle and it'd be nice to see more of you guys do it as well so they won't fuck us so much back here." After that I left it at that.
When I came back from recreation they told us we're on lockdown. On Memorial day! Unbelievable...None of us expected it to happen until at least mid June or early July especially during Ramadan for the muslims because they fast all day and are going to be even hungrier once they get just a sack lunch for dinner at sun down. Crazy! Oh well, better to get it over with now, I suppose.
So, I'm sitting in my cell with little to do on this holiday and I was thinking back as I tend to do each Memorial day weekend and think about the summer of '95 when I left home to go to Louisville and things just went downhill after that. We have moments in our lives when you can look back in hindsight and see a literal fork in the road, a place where the universe divides itself and there are two alternate possibilities. I'm living one and some other version of me stayed home, hopped in the Suburban with my dad and went to the grocery store. I'm definitely not sitting here in a cell and typing on a typewriter facing death...Nuts. I hope my alternate universe version is happy, maybe successful with a couple of kids. I'm sure he's living in Kentucky somewhere. I don't know why I know that, but I'm sure he is.
May 30th, 2017
Tuesday...We're definitely on lockdown. Breakfast was a handful of raisins and two fried eggs thrown in a sack. I woke up, exercised and took a bird bath. Now I'm just waiting anxiously to see if I'm told to pack my stuff up and head out to F-pod or what...I won't know anything until later tonight or possibly tomorrow. They've already started to shake the building down so that has at least started. I don't think I'll be going to F-Pod, and the guys around me think the same...You've got guys who pull their dicks out on female guards on a regular basis, and the harshest punishment they get is 15 days commissary restriction. Surely, trying to get a man some food isn't going to warrant a harsher punishment? Time will tell...
Now I'm just sitting around waiting to listen to the two hour end of the month special of the Classic Club Hour on Tuesdays...Last week they did an entire hour of The Cure's "Kiss me Kiss me Kiss me" album and it was so freakin' badass. To hear songs I've not listened to in over 20 years! I can't tell you how good that felt! Check out these three B-sides "Just breathe", "Snow in summer" and "Chain of flowers". So good, and should have been on the album, but still the album itself is awesome!
Gonna go and watch the horses outside of my window for a bit...
June 1st, 2017
Whew...It appears I dodged a big mess. I'm still on level 1 and no case was ever served for the incident on Saturday. I'm very fortunate, but I also think the Sergeant realised that I didn't do it for any other reason than to get a guy some food. Some guys who jack the food slot do it for BS reasons and I wouldn't put my neck on the line unless I felt it was an issue I needed to have addressed. I'm just really lucky though, because I could be stuck on level 2 right now with almost no property, starving half to death (which would've been ironic considering the circumstances...) for 90 days. See, sometimes it pays to do some good ol' civil disobediance.
We're now on day 4 of the lockdown and they should be on C-pod (the pod I've been on for the last 5 months) tomorrow, or Monday. I'm hoping it's Monday if I'm honest, because the crew shaking down right now is pretty hardcore on shakedowns, and I'd like to be stuck outside for three hours in the sun, not in the rain like it's doing right now.
I woke up this morning pretty energized and started cleaning my cell and washing my sheets. Then I caught up on some writing and now I'm just killing time listening to the radio and typing this out. Tonight the NBA championship games start and I might catch that. I'd like Golden State to win, but Cleveland will more likely win overall. Who knows?
July 3rd, 2017
I've been wondering why there's an embedded human desire for conflict...Not with everyone - I do not particularly like conflict, and prefer diplomacy and finding a solution or common ground to work with...But it does seem like a lot of people can't operate without confict and drama in their lives.
You could use Trump's ongoing Twitter wars with people/the media, as an example. You can look at how tabloid culture and their sales have skyrocketed over the last couple of decades. I made a comment just the other day to someone how entertainment used to focus more on movies/t.v. shows and premieres, and now it's turned into a gossip show. "Reality" t.v. has kind of fueled this desire...But even throughout history, human behavior has been wishy-washy. Conquering, subjugating, creating even more conflicts than are unnecessary.
I have an opinion of people who create/crave conflict, or a theory rather. They need attention or to be the focus. It doesn't matter if it's positive or negative. If it's negative, it's still attention. They need that drama because you're focused on them. If they don't have it they are being ignored and therefore are of no significance. I know a lot of people like that...But I mean, why does it have to be negative? A person that does good will get attention and it will have a positive effect on others! I just don't understand the need for conflict when most of it is manufactured bullshit. It really is. Most of human suffering is manufactured; we have the ability and technology to solve most of the world's suffering but we don't! Why so many self-inflicted wounds? I don't know...just stuff I'm thinking about today.
So, we're into the 4th of July holiday even though everything is operating as usual today. I'm sure tomorrow will be different. We might even get a good meal. That would be nice.
I'm just sitting here trying to keep busy until my recreation time comes open.
August 29th, 2017
An early Tuesday morning and I'm sitting here hoping 12 building (death row) will be swept away by all of this rain from the hurricane that recently hit Houston. I'm a great swimmer, or used to be...I haven't been swimming in 21 years, but it's one of these things you don't forget, right? Otherwise, I'm screwed!
A song by Tool comes to mind...Can't remember the name of it but the chorus goes "learn to swim!" See you in Arizona Bay indeed. With all seriousness, I hope the people in flood areas are okay. I was sitting here thinking I wish I could donate these 30 bottles of water I have. I've had them in case our water is ever shut off for any unseen reason, but right now I'm just using them to exercise with, whereas a family could be drinking them. Everything on the unit is pretty much shut down. We haven't had rec or showers in two days. They're supposed to have three officers per pod, and since Sunday we've only had two. And the rain just won't stop.
So...I haven't written anything new in a long time. It's not that I haven't had anything to say. I'm always thinking about things. Sometimes I wish I could get my brain to shut up. But the problem is, every time I would sit down to write something, I'd go blank. It's hard to explain what's been going on...I guess an extreme level of emotional stress. The loss of friends (alive and dead), a feeling of loneliness, a trapped feeling. Having an attorney that cares little about putting any effort into your appeals process and then trying to have him replaced. Honestly, there are times when I've felt like this whole battle is futile. Why and what am I fighting for? Am I just stubborn or is it a "fight or flight" response and I'm hard wired to just fight? Is being alive enough or am I just existing? I feel like a lot of times I'm just existing.
September 5th I'll have been locked up officially 21 years. 21 YEARS! It's mind boggling. I remember every detail of that day. I'll write about it when it comes.
Okay, I'm laughing my ass off! I'm listening to the news and reporting on the flooding, and the reporters were talking about President Trump coming to Texas. He'll be in Austin or Corpus Christi and they said he wouldn't be coming to Houston and one reporter said "Yes, please...don't come to Houston" but if you heard the tone and snarkiness. It was like "stay away dumbass, we don't want you here", haha.
Doesn't Trump remind you of Biff in the alternate time line in "Back to the future II"? Like, Marty McFly screwed up by trying to create a Google type program instead, giving old Trump the plans to create WikiLeaks and he gives it to the Russians to steal the elections for younger Trump, creating the dip shit we have now? I need a flux capacitor to set this shit right!
Anyway, I'm going to try to get back into the swing of things and write more. Stay tuned.
August 30th, 2017
The rain keeps coming...Things looked promising yesterday as I watched the sunset, but the clouds rushed across the sky - grey wisps strewn across the horizon. Blue was peeking out from behind and I thought "finally!" I went to sleep only to wake up to the sound of rain tapping the window.
At least we got showers today. Still no recreation due to an officer shortage, but the shower was wonderful. A bird bath out of your sink will get the job done but nothing beats the feeling of hot water showering your body like a massage.
Yesterday afternoon I did get to spend two glorious hours in the free world. I can't explain the feeling of hearing two hours of one of your favorite bands, commercial free! On KPFT 90.1 out of Houston they played the "Substance" album by New Order, a collection of singles that expanded their career to 1987. I cranked the music up and was completely absorbed in it. Some people see music in colors - which I do to a certain extent, but I feel music as a cosmic fabric...I intertwine myself in it, become a part of it. The walls of this place, the smells, the sounds of gates crushing, all disappear when I'm jamming out to the radio. Such wonderful music...A gift.
I think I need to surrender to fate. My neurotic brain is always trying to find a solution to perceived problems, often, in desperation, making the problem worse than it was at the beginning. That doesn't mean I don't work (what's the saying? G-d helps those who help themselves?) at a solution. My favorite show ever is "Lost". One of the themes of the T.V. show was "what is a person's destiny?" Sure I believe the future isn't totally written but I'm also starting to see that we aren't the "captain of our ships" either. We have little control over our lives, as much as many of us try to micro-manage every little detail of it. Look at all the people caught up in the floods of Houston...How many people, families, businessmen and women thought they had their lives/future mapped out only to be thrown into chaos by a single storm?
Surrender isn't capitulation. It isn't acknowledging defeat. It doesn't mean we go down with the ship. It just means it's okay to let someone else steer it for a bit...If only my neurotic mind could accept that! Haha.
September 4th, 2017
Labor day and still trapped in the cell. I woke up at about 4:30am when the guards were passing out our "breakfast": two rock-hard biscuits, raisins, a box of frosted flakes and one hard boiled egg. A breakfast of champions, indeed! I tried to go back to sleep but just tossed and turned until 1st shift came on. They did showers and I debated about trying to get back to sleep, but ultimately ended up staying up. Maybe I'll get a nap later on. I should try because one of my favorite music shows is on tonight till midnight. I'll never make it if I don't.
The holiday weekend has been so slow. I think being on a quasi lockdown has added to the feeling. Today is 9 days of being trapped in the cell. I was really fortunate to get out Saturday night for a visit, but other than that I've just been laying around doing absolutely nothing. Happy holidays I suppose...
September 11th, 2017
My weekend was pretty typical, nothing exciting to write about there. I went outside earlier today and it felt fantastic; I was scheduled for a day room inside but when the officer came back and told me there was an outside opening, I jumped at the opportunity. Fall is my favorite season and even though we still have a week and a half till it officially begins, it felt as close to fall as it possibly could in Texas. It brought back a lot of memories of fall in Kentucky for some odd reasons.
I had an interesting conversation about the U.S. jury system with the guy I was outside with. When a person goes on a jury trial it's supposed to be a jury of your "peers" but that is rarely the case. In a case such as mine where there were 6 individuals being tried for the same crime, it wouldn't have been out of the realm of possibility that the actual shooters in the crime could've been given a life sentence, while the non-shooters given death. Jurors are expected to follow the rule of law, but it's only natural that human emotion get in the way. There's a lot of arguments against the death penalty but I think arbitrariness of a jury deciding one's fate - life or death - is a reason why it shouldn't be an option. They're typically not a jury of your peers; they are coming from different social and economic backgrounds, and they're human, they make mistakes. Prosecutors often direct them to decide emotionally. How is that fair?
September 12th, 2017
Today I feel "blah". It's crazy how one person (in this case a real asshole of a guard working our pod) can ruin the entire day for 40 plus people. This dude is going out of his way to mess with people for no other reason than it appears to give him a tingle in his penis. A real jerk.
I'm trying to get through it and ignore the chaos he's created, but every time this asshole passes my cell I just get frustrated and angry. What's wrong with some people? I hope he's not working on my birthday. That would blow. I just need to make it to 4pm and some good music will hopefully settle me down.
September 13th, 2017
It's a good day! I made it to 40 years, and I don't want to sound like I'm gloating because there comes a bit of sadness with it as well. In the back of my head I hear the voices of victims' families who say "my loved one didn't get to make it to 40 years of age because you all on death row stole that from us!" and I feel that pain. Sincerely, while I didn't shoot or kill anyone, I do often wonder why I'm still alive when I fully expected to be dead many years ago. Right now, I'm trying my best to make my life count for something; I try to live by actions, and not just words...I don't know how to atone for my own mistakes any other way.
To everyone who sent me birthday wishes: thank you so much! I am blessed with true friends, and the kindness of complete strangers, which has given me the desire to push on and stay in the fight! I smiled a lot on this special day...Some days are filled with frustration, hopelessness, anger, sadness, and utter despair...but it's kindness that pulls me out of those feelings, and drives me forward. Thank you all.
Well, I woke up feeling good. I had a moment where I was like "oh...damn" when I noticed we had the same jerk guard that worked yesterday, working today. I refuse to let him spoil the day, though! It's a perfect, beautiful day and I even get to go outside and get some sunshine which makes it even better. I'm also glad to be amongst friends on death row today as well; one of my closest friends, a guy they call "Big Will" is going to cook me up some tacos, and I can't wait.
Again, thank you all for the birthday wishes. It means more than you'll ever know!
October 1st, 2017
Life is full of surprises and I guess even knowing that things can unexpectedly happen, people still get complacent. It's called living. Even back here, with the possibility of an unnatural death looming over our heads, we tend to just move on. People get caught up in penpals, football/sports, politics...whatever they need to keep their minds off of why they are actually here. We're not unlike cattle on green delicious grass until we're rustled up, put on a truck and taken to the slaughter house. Hey, the grass was good! I'm just as guilty of this, even though I do take a mindful approach to my life. I keep a routine, and I'm structured. I keep up with my legal stuff and even with all of that it is still a shock when the federal court denies your appeal. With every thing that had been going on, fighting for a new attorney, multiple judges playing musical chairs, etc...the LAST thing I expected was to be denied amongst all of the chaos.
Oddly enough, I'm not as panicked as I thought I would be entering into the 5th circuit (the last stage of the appeal process unless a miracle occurs and the Supreme Court decides to take a look at a person's appeal). Am I scared? Sure! But I also accept that I have little control over what happens next. I did get a new attorney and I hope like hell he's good and will do all that he can to fight and of course I will do what I can to fight...But hope...faith in G-d, the universe, and everything, are what I have to surrender myself to.
Over the past couple of days my thoughts have been on the process of the death penalty, and why we have the death penalty in the U.S. How, as people, we decide who gets to live, who gets to die, the unfairness of the application...and my will to live. It's easy for a person to say "if you kill you forfeit your life". If only it were that easy and I guess if it was truly applied that way the population of earth would probably be half of what it is today. There are thousands of killers in General Population right now, here in Texas, watching T.V., getting contact visits, even having jobs. While only a couple of hundred sit on death row in a legal limbo waiting to DIE. There are cases under Texas Law of Parties where the actual killer was given a life sentence by a jury while the person who maybe just drove the getaway car or didn't participate in the murder was given death. Is that a fair application of the death penalty? I could give a hundred examples of how it's arbitrarily applied. The system is not built on justice...the system is built on bullshit. Back here, it's easy to feel defeated or frustrated when you see a guy get lucky enough to have an attorney who is dedicated and deligent; one who does not believe in capital punishment, and who pulls no punches. They'll file everything under the sun to see if it sticks and then the next thing you know, you're watching a guy you know isn't mentally retarted receive a life sentence for mental retardation, while the guy who really is mentally deficient or ill has a shitty ass attorney who does the bare minimum on his appeals and the guy ends up being executed. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy when a person leaves this place on a bus and not in a body bag. I just get frustrated at how unfair the place is. But also...I'm only human. It might be a selfish way to think at times, "why does he get to live or get action on his case and the dude is guilty as fuck?!" I instantly feel guilty/bad for having those thoughts, but geeze...I'm sitting here for something I truly didn't do. Something my co-defendants all admit I didn't do and ballistics evidence proves I didn't do, but because I was there, I'm guilty. It's frustrating. There are others like me in the same situation.
I don't believe in the death penalty. Seeing what I have seen for the past 14 years, even the most hardened of death penalty supporters would shudder if they'd seen the same things...It would be impossible to not feel the way I do. To know how fucked up the system really is - and don't misunderstand me, I'm in no way playing the victim role - makes it tough to swallow. Even though I'm not a murderer, I do accept that choices I made in life have lead me here where I am now...I just want a chance, a chance to prove that I'm no longer that stupid, naive, 23 year old who escaped...That I'm not as impulsive as I once was...That while not perfect, I try to live my life being mindful of others, empathetic and compassionate. Yeah, I get angry, frustrated, pissed even...but show me a single human being on this planet who doesn't! I don't think I'm a good person, I KNOW I'm a good person. I have so many ideas I'd love to be able to make a reality if I lived; I would show the public that the right choice was made if my life was spared.
October 2nd, 2017
I didn't wake up until 7am, and my first thought of the day was "why aren't the guards doing showers ?" I rolled over, turned on my radio, and heard the news...Over 50 dead, and hundreds shot and injured, in a mass shooting in Las Vegas...My eyes filled with tears...It's insane, and makes no sense whatsoever. I felt real shitty at that moment...How do I go through the day and worry about my appeals and own life when these people, some of them having probably never hurt a single person in their entire life, never had a chance? I commend everyone who helped amidst the chaos, the police, the paramedics, etc...No doubt they saved countless lives. That is the true spirit of America.
I was a bit surprised that they ended up moving me last night. I remained on the same pod, just a section over, but I lost my great view. For the past month I had a perfect view of the front of the prison: the parking lot, the side walk that leads to the visitation building/administration building. I'd spend hours staring out my window watching the world go by. The thing that brought the biggest smile (and a few teary eyes) was watching the family members who brought kids in. The games they'd play on the side walk, running, skipping. The other day I saw a brother and sister who couldn't have been more than five and seven. The brother would walk fast to get away from the sister, and the sister would run to catch up. The brother would walk faster, the sister would run to catch up...This went on for over 30-40 yards when all of a sudden they both take off in a mad dash to the front gate, the brother pushing his sister away as they run. These moments are priceless...The view will be missed.
Well, I got settled in, cleaned my cell up and was in bed by 10:15 p.m.
October 4th, 2017
Woke up this morning, exercised, got a shower and now I'm writing. As far as I know they're starting on C-pod for shakedowns/cell searches. Three down. Three more to go. We'll probably be next (I'm currently on B-pod). I just want to get it over with.
Sometimes I really hate my brain, I hate being neurotic, I hate getting anxious and over thinking things, but the more I think about my appeal, the more restless I get. You know what I feel like? I feel like a guy who was just diagnosed with cancer. I want to know how long I might have...I want to know what treatment is available to me, and I want to know how good the doctor is and if he thinks I can make it. I feel like I received a diagnosis in the mail with little explanation. It sucks! Whatever it is, I want to do the opposite of Walter White and make something positive out of it. I'm trying to be positive, I'm trying to be focused; but the more I think, the more anxious I get. I don't have the switch that some people have where I can shut off my emotions...shut off the thinking part of my brain. Maybe I need a lobotomy. I'd gladly accept it right about now...I just need a miracle. I know there are so many more deserving people than me in the world, and I feel so selfish for even asking. I don't know! Argh! I hate - hate - HATE my head sometimes.
October 5th, 2017
I slept in late today. I'm normally out of bed at around 5:30-6am, but I slept till about 8:30 a.m. Maybe because I'm stressed. Who knows? I just didn't want to get up. I didn't have any trouble getting to sleep - I rarely do. And I've never been an insomniac, or one who takes naps unless I'm really exhausted. Anyway, it felt good to sleep in.
I've been thinking about faith, G-d, etc...I used to consider myself a fairly devoted Jew in the sense that I was a strong believer, and I tried to keep the religious holidays and traditions. I wasn't orthodox, I never kept kosher, and didn't care about dating someone outside of Judaism either...But I am spiritual, and my soul has always been deeply rooted in being Jewish. At some point in the past 7 years I kind of turned my back on religion/dogma as a whole. I think it had more to do with the absolute frustration of seeing people of all faiths use their religion to justify killing people, hating people different than you, etc...It just became too much for me and I began to consider myself more agnostic than anything. I still identified as being Jewish but was like, you know - I just don't know anymore! I'm tired of seeing what religion is doing to this world; it's ripping us apart. Every now and then I would still find myself saying a prayer for someone or "talking" to G-d, and it still felt natural. I felt like a bit of hypocrite but I don't know...In my situation now, I've been praying and I thought "Man...It's pretty assuming of me to call on G-d now for something I need" but don't we all do it...? Call on a person we believe can help us in a time of need?
I heard a Rabbi on NPR the other day say that part of faith is doubt. I kind of get it. I mean, I don't get why "he" allows suffering or for mankind to hurt one another but just as human beings have an incredible propensity for violence, we also have an amazing ability for goodness and compassion - love and giving in times of need. We're an interesting species. We have to figure out ways to cultivate these things across the world. I'm not mad at religion; I'm mad at the people who misuse it. It's not G-d's fault. I'd be an idiot to think I deserve any prayer answered over the millions of more deserving souls. All I can hope is to get a consideration...I realize now that is what faith really is.
October 9th, 2017
I had to give my brain a rest. I was starting to get a bit anxious...I have a few ideas that may or may not be good ones - in theory, they're great! But real world practicality? We'll see...
It's Monday morning and we were expecting today to be the shakedown day, but it's going to be tomorrow. They're doing A-pod today, B-pod tomorrow. I'm just ready for this to be over.
I woke up, exercised, washed, and decided to wash my sheets as well. Then I ate the hard boiled egg and single pancake that was "breakfast" and now I'm writing. I thought I'd lighten things up today with a couple of funny things. As I was exercising this morning the song "Genie in a bottle" by Christina Aguilera came on. It reminded me of this time when I was on Connally Unit. I had only been there for about a week, and I didn't know my cell mate too well. He seemed a little odd, but cool, and he was being really nice in letting me use his radio when he was out of the cell. One night I went to sleep only to wake up to sounds of shuffling across the floor. I jumped up, thinking my cell mate was going to attack me but quickly noticed he was dancing like Michael Jackson as "Genie in a bottle" blared from his head phones. I yelled "celly! celly! what the hell are you doing? it's 2:15 a.m.!" He never stopped dancing, only said "when the music moves you, you gotta dance!" I thought "ooookay". I mean, what was I going to do? He was right - when the music moves you, you gotta dance! It still makes me laugh thinking about it.
I'll probably spend the rest of the day getting all my stuff organized for the shakedown tomorrow. I really want it to be over with! I have someone "cool" to write to as well! But I'll leave you all with this...I ran across this poem in a magazine the other day. It really spoke to me. It's taken from the Old Norse poem Havamal:
Pets die, friends die,
Yes and you die,
I know one thing that does not die,
The word a man leaves behind.
October 17th, 2017
I woke up a bit agitated. I'm in a better mood now but with another execution pending tomorrow...It just angers me when I hear politicians complain about where they'll find resources and money with all of these natural disasters exploding all across the North American continent, when we're wasting millions trying to kill someone for pure revenge. Think of all the lives you will save instead of trying to kill a person...instead of locking them up for life and potentially allowing them to change and give back to society. We never seem to lack funding for wars/defense or for the implementation of the death penalty, but we can't take care of medical care or victims of natural disasters. Our priorities are all out of whack.
Otherwise I'm feeling okay. It's Tuesday and (hopefully) the last day of the lockdown. The lieutenant passed by earlier and said everything "should" be back to normal tomorrow, and I'm so looking forward to having a jog, after three weeks of being locked up in a cell, 24/7.
Not much else to say today...Maybe I'll write more tomorrow.
October 18th, 2017
Well, I thought today we'd be off lockdown. I woke up at 5am, hoping for a hot breakfast after three long weeks of cold pancakes thrown into a bag, and I thought we'd surely go to recreation today! Nope. We got showers, but no recreation. Maybe tomorrow.
Because A-pod is now having their hot water heater replaced, they brought Anthony Shore over here; it's his execution day and as he left B-pod I had the sad thought...He probably just took the last shower of his life. I don't often allow my mind to wander "there" but seeing things like this, I can't help but think about how he's feeling, if he actually slept the previous night, and the fact that it's potentially his last day on earth...What possibly goes through a person's mind on a day like today? Everything you do is potentially a "last". Are you hyper-aware of every little thing? Sights, smells, sounds and conversations? Does the voice of G-d speak to you? Comfort you? Do you become so hyper-aware that you can peer beyond the veil that seperates life and death and see into another realm?
So many questions that I'm really not ready to receive the answers to...I can only hope that Anthony Shore somehow has peace and finds remorse and forgiveness.
December 24th, 2017
This day...always such a hard day for me. I just hope there's a G-d and souls - an afterlife, so that's it's known how I wish with all that's in me that this night, 17 years ago, never would have happened...That I didn't participate in this horrible event that lead to an innocent life being lost. It's just not in my heart. It's not! Even if it meant my own freedom.
I was asked by the prosecutor "What would you have done if it was you confronted by the police?" I said "I'd surrender". I remember him being surprised by my saying that because during Rivas' trial, he was asked why he shot at the police officer, and he said, "I'm not going back to prison. It's me or you".
In the past I've written about a social experiment - actually a thought experiment I created. It goes like this: an inmate is called out to the Major's office; two guards escort the inmate there and the Major says "uncuff him and leave us". The Major tells the inmate to have a seat and as the inmate is sitting down the Major types something on his keyboard and pulls up an image of one section on a pod from death row. He then reaches down and picks up an electronic red button, places it on the desk...the inmate is confused until the Major gives an explanation: "I'm giving you the biggest choice of your life today. I'm ready to let you walk out of the prison a free man, but to do so you have to push this red button. It will send a signal to a group of guards who will randomly pick a cell, forcibly remove a fellow inmate, drag him on to the walkway and kill him while you watch on this monitor. After that I'll have you sign some papers and we will release you. You have two minutes to decide".
I only know of a few people who have said they wouldn't push that button, including myself. One of my closest friends, whom I consider to have a good heart, said he'd push the button! I said "But what if it was ME they dragged out?" He thought about it for a second and said "Well...I'd want to believe that you would want to see me go free, and I'd want you to push the button if it was me on the run".
"Sorry dude, but there's just no way. I'd have to go back to my cell", I said.
"Well, you're a fool then", he replied.
It's just not in my heart. Surely...if there is an afterlife this is known. Little comfort to those that suffered the loss of a dearly loved one and I know this. All I can say, with all of my heart is "I'm sorry".
The holiday has another level of sadness because it's also the first Christmas in 16 years without my friend David. I miss him so much. No person was more supportive, more loving and encouraging throughout those years. A mentor, a teacher, and while no one can replace the love I have for my father, he was definitely a father like figure in my life.
And so tonight, as in my usual tradition, I will say a prayer for those in my life who have made these years wonderful in their own little way, including a new friend I made this year, who is already dear to me. I will be grateful for what I have and I will listen to the movie "It's A Wonderful Life" and cherish the life I do have. As George Bailey said "I want to live!" I really do.
December 26th, 2017
Well, after a wonderful Christmas meal we're eating sack lunches cause we're on lockdown! I was hoping that it'd be after the New Year, partly because I'd have liked to get out of the cell to jog all of that food off, and because I made a very stupid bet and have lost. What was the bet? Well, I rarely bet if I don't know with absolute certainty that I will win; so, when I got into an argument about when the next lockdown was going to be, my friend David said "Bet a sexy dance in the day room on it". I didn't even think about it! I said "That's a bet!" Ugh!...Now when I return to B-pod I have to go to F-section in the day room and do a sexy dance.
Fortunately for me a sexy dance was never defined, so my interpretation of what a "sexy dance" is going to be is NOT what he's expecting, haha. After all sexy is subjective, right? The lockdown shouldn't be more than two weeks I hope.