For New Years it seems nothing is different. I still woke up in a cell. I went to sleep right after New Years and then woke up. They gave us a nice lunch, but I gave the chicken to my neighbor. He's been eating like a king ever since I moved next to him. They haven't fed us this much meat in a long time.
This year I'm going to focus on being a better person and doing more things to help people. I really am going to try to stop worrying or getting depressed over things I have no control over. Easier said than done, but I can get better at it, I think.
January 2nd, 2008
A cold, cold day and I went outside to play basketball. It was freezing, but after about three games of running, I was warmed up. I felt good. After winning ten games at 'speed ball' (that's where the first person to score ten shots wins) we played a game called '21' in which you can shoot any way that you want to. The first shot is worth two points and on the rebound you have to shoot from where you catch the ball. That is worth one point. Now, the goal is not to go over 21. If you do go over 21 your score goes back down to 17. I was down three games and came back four games in a row. I'm too good. Haha. Now that I'm playing in the winter most of the good players aren't, so hopefully I'll have improved over the cold months, to the point I can kick some major butt when everyone starts playing again. I want to be in tip-top shape.
Right now I'm waiting around to see if I'll be moved or not. Hold on, a guard just passed by…Nope. One more night on E-pod. (For those who aren't aware at the time of reading this, I get moved around from pod to pod and cell to cell because I'm a so-called "escape-risk…") That dumb shit already got me a death sentence...why oh why would I ever want to do that again?!?
January 3rd, 2008
Huh...I was just told I'll be moving to C-pod. I need to pack my stuff but once I get settled in my new cell, I'll write more…That didn't take long. Fortunately the cell was really clean so all I had to do was sanitize it and unpack my things. I'm not really too excited to be on this pod. This is where all of the drama of someone getting a friend's personal information began. Tomorrow I have to put on my Sherlock Holmes hat and begin investigating the issue. Oh boy…
Fortunately it's really quiet here. I don't have a great view out of my window, but it doesn't matter. I should be back in Dallas before too long.
January 4th, 2008
Man, this month is already off to a fast beginning. I hopped out of bed and exercised, and then got ready to do my investigation...I feel a little more at ease that I wasn't the prime target. It has happened to several other people over here, which tells me that it originates from this pod. The guy whose name the letter to my friend was written in, swore up and down he didn't and wouldn't do something like that, and besides, he said they got his ID# wrong too (which begs the question of why the mail room allowed a letter written with the wrong ID# to go out in the first place). Oh, well…I'll probably never know for sure who did it, but I still believe I know who it was.
Peace and love.
January 6th, 2008
A warm and humid Sunday. It's like 75 degrees right now and just three days ago it was in the 20's. Nuts. I'm listening to KDOL and my wonderful friend, Josef, just called in and shared with me that many people are upset I decided to shut down my myspace page. I admit it evokes mixed feelings when I think about it, but I will say that I didn't do it because I was tired of being attacked. I'm used to it. I put up with guards, inmates and loony-tune hateful people on a regular basis, so it's not a big deal to me, but I have trouble dealing with the attacks when they are directed at people I care about and who are close friends. So I decided to shut the page down because I believe that someone was possibly taking information from my page and another's page and using that against them. I did it to protect another person, not me. That being said, I think myspace has some good purposes but all in all is a pretty trivial place. I don't support anything that Rupert Murdoch owns and I would rather associate with those who are truly serious about changing this world and ending the death penalty. I don't want to be a part of the "next best or cool thing," but I want to be a part of those who want serious change. So, I had to part ways with that place. I'm a pretty stubborn person and no one is going to chase me off from anything I believe in. I just didn't believe in myspace anymore. It's had its day. I still do have a link to myspace via my friend Josef, so I'm sure that he will continue his work against the death penalty via that site.
Man, I'm so ready to get back to Dallas...I really feel like it's going to not only recharge my spirit but also give me new things and ideas to write about. I live a Groundhog's Day kind of life and I'm ready for a little bit of change. Everything is so stagnant right now.
January 7th, 2008
Today has been long and boring. I think the humidity zaps the energy right from you. That would be a good horror story. Instead of a fog, mist or a giant monster, you could have this town that has never experienced real humidity and it's been relatively dry…then humidity settles in. There's so much moisture - warm, uncomfortable moisture that these people with almost leather-like skin plump up like raisins. Suddenly people begin to take on so much moisture they explode like a watermelon being thrown to the pavement. You could have this really anally-retentive character who loves to do laundry, but because she's used to the air being so dry it only takes a few hours for her clothes to dry she flips out when one load takes over a day to hang dry. She screams, "Why ain't my clothes dry yet?!?!" Fades out, grabs a sledgehammer and starts attacking people…Okay, so Stephen King I ain't…
I just finished listening to NPR and they were talking about the arguments being heard by the Supreme Court against lethal injection… The case originates from Kentucky and the argument is if you can use chemicals that not even veterinarians use to euthanize animals, why then is it okay to use them on humans? They also argued that no one is properly medically trained to administer the lethal injection without ensuring that it won't cause pain and suffering. Those in support of the death penalty are arguing that this is just a back door into abolishing the death penalty altogether (well, duh). Thought it should be made clear that the Supreme Court is not deciding on the constitutionality of the death penalty. Executions will resume, be sure of this.
My realistic and honest opinion is that either the courts are going to rule that a different chemical or method be used, or that it is constitutional because there really is no way of knowing. What I find interesting is that pretty much the same method is used for assisted suicide and that practice has been banned by the government because it is unethical and "inhumane." Even Bush has spoken out against assisted suicide, but it's okay for murdering people? What kind of backwoods logic is that?
Well, a decision is expected by summertime so we shall see.
Peace and love.
January 8th, 2008
The day began with a little bit of sunshine coming through my window, but it didn't last very long. As I write this, it's pouring rain. There was some construction going on outside, but it's come to a halt. Apparently they are putting in stadium lights all around and focused on the Death Row building. Anyone who has been around here knows that the whole unit is lit up brighter than an airport. I guess Texas is aiming to be the first Death Row facility to be visible from the Space Station. I wasn't sure what kind of construction they were doing, but now it's obvious. About 200 yards away from my cell you can see these huge steel posts. They've already laid the cable and conduit (in the process hitting a gas line and a water main - that's TDCJ competency for you!) and they've poured the concrete for the base of the lamps. Rumor has it that they are also going to be putting up some sort of cell phone scrambler because they've found a butt load of inmates with cell phones in recent months. I still don't know why they would want to put up stadium lights around this building. It's a waste of government money, if you ask me - oh, yeah, Texas is run by Republicans. My bad.
They were pulling a guy out of his cell to take him to recreation and he had a brace on his wrist. When we come out of our cells we have to be handcuffed, even if we're only going five feet away. So, the guard puts the handcuffs around his brace and then snaps them super tight and the inmate lets out this howl of pain. Then he starts cussing out the guard, but the guard doesn't feel that he did anything wrong. They start arguing and I'm certain they are about to slam the inmate on the ground for hostile behavior… It got so quiet in here, fortunately the guard apologized and everything went back to normal. Whew.
I'll be going to recreation today kind of late. Things are moving real slow for some reason. Must be this humidity.
January 9th, 2008
Yesterday was muggy and wet, while today is crisp, cool and beautiful. I went outside this morning at six to play basketball. I'll be honest, though, the guy I called out to play and trash - talked was really psyched up to play, and I dreaded going out that early…I was hoping he'd skip out and let me sleep in. No such luck. Not only did we go out and play in the cold, but he demolished me fifteen games to five and then beat me five games to three on football. As I was getting smashed I kept thinking to myself, why am I playing so bad? I'm better than this! Obviously not better than him. Huh. Oh, well, it's the exercise that counts.
Right now I've been jotting down notes for chapters that I'll be contributing to an anti-death penalty book that will be published in Europe. I'm really excited about it and have been trying to decide what exactly I would write. I know what I'll probably do…I'm thinking about writing something that clashes with the humanity that does exist on death row against the inhumanity of the actual act in which they lead guys out to the executions. When I told a friend of this project he suggested that any direct argument I would make against capital punishment would be dismissed by those who say, "Of course he's against it. He's on death row." And I agree with his observation. The only real way I feel to argue against the death penalty is by showing that humanity does exist. I have just the stories…
I wanted to also quote a passage of my friend's letter in which he carries on commenting on the article that the Dallas Morning News wrote against those who are pen pals with death row inmates. He wrote:
"The article you mentioned in the Dallas Morning News about pen pals of death row inmates was interesting. All I can say is "only in Texas". The true believer (in the death penalty) thinks anything, like [non-death row] inmates having sex with teachers, is a valid argument in favor of capital punishment. What's really ironic is that their fervor allows them to forget the most important teachings of Christ, about whom many also claim to be passionate. Even the ones on death row who have committed terrible crimes (and we know there are plenty who haven't) deserve love and forgiveness, at least according to Christian doctrine. The disconnect between these two separate beliefs in Texas is so great that it borders on schizophrenia. I don't see how people can hold two beliefs so in opposition to each other and be healthy…"
Oddly enough, last year, the Dallas Morning News' editorial board came out against the death penalty and it seems that they don't see the contradictions in their own propaganda. It's easy to say you're against the death penalty. It's a whole other ballgame to offer solutions outside of death. Of course those in favor of killing someone for punishment refuse to see any alternative.
I suppose I've rambled on enough for this day.
Peace and love.
January 10th, 2008
Today began with a knock on my door from a mailroom lady. At first I thought it was a guard pestering me because I hang my towel over my cell light when I sleep, because sometimes they will turn on the lights to do a physical count. There are five bright fluorescent lights in a fixture behind a steel grate that contains our sink/toilet. So, I ignored the first knock and then I realized a lady was calling my name. I was in a daze because last night I didn't get much sleep. In my zombified state I accepted the letter and went back to my bed.
After sleeping about 45 minutes more my first thought on waking up was the letter. So I grabbed it off my desk and opened it up. Turns out it was from my attorney saying my hearing had been rescheduled (again!) for the beginning of April. He sent me a hearing itinerary and it is as follows:
So, it looks like when I do leave for Dallas I'll be gone about a month and a half. Man, I was ready to go now! I should've guessed it was bound to change again and no way am I under the impression it is a solid schedule. In the world of legal activities, nothing is set in stone. I am kind of excited that I will be gone for a while though. It'll be a much needed break from life on death row. If anything changes be assured that I will keep you posted. Note to friends: Continue to write me here at Polunsky. I'm not going anywhere yet.
The day has been smooth. I've exercised, done laundry and some writing. The view out of my window is lovely. It looks like a beautiful spring day. The construction hasn't been resumed, though.
It's time to listen to "The Progressive Forum" on KPFT. Bye-bye!
Peace and love.
January 13th, 2008
It's Sunday, and Sundays are usually the most boring day of the week here. No one has recreation and we can't leave our cell for anything. Usually I do all of my laundry on this day (hand wash), catch up on writing, and listen to to the radio for a while.
I woke up about 8:00am and crawled out of bed about 8:30. Then I worked out for an hour. I've got a hose made out of coax cable that I plug into my sink to make a shower so after my exercise I rinsed off, cleaned up my cell (there's no drain so the only down-side to showering in your cell is sopping up the small lake that remains) and started my day.
It's a warm day, almost 70 degrees. I listened to KDOL and then listened to the Cowboys football game with the Giants. They choked. What a gyp!
Guess I will end the day with a cup of cocoa.
January 14th, 2008
Crap! I'm so freakin' upset right now…Last night they decided to do a cell search for our whole section. The guards are just going through the motions, not really making a big fuss, not really taking anything, a smooth operation in and out of the cells. Have a nice evening, Sir, blah, blah, blah. I go to sleep at 11:30pm and at 4:30am there's a knock on my cell door. Surely I must be dreaming so I ignore the knock…
"Halprin, get up! I need a statement," a voice says.
"Huh?" I mumble.
"You got a case. I need your statement."
"A case? For what?" I ask, confused.
"For having tape," the sergeant says. I jump out of bed now, wide awake.
"For tape? I've never had any tape! Did the officer turn any tape into you?"
"Who wrote the case?" I ask.
"Ms. Nawlins! She was in the picket when the guards were searching cells. She can't write a case!" I say flabbergasted.
The sergeant is now shocked at this revelation. "She was in the picket?" (Picket is slang for control room.)
"Yes!" I say. "Sergeant I seriously did not have any tape. This is bogus."
"Well, she wrote eleven cases and I'll go through them all and maybe you'll slide by," she says.
Agh! If I get [another] bogus ass case for something I did not do or have I'll blow a gasket. I will not spend another three months on level 2 discipline POD for crap. I won't know for another couple of days if the case will stick or not. Then depending on who runs the kangaroo "court"...we'll see if I get any punishment. I could get cell restriction, commissary restriction or be sent to the discipline POD. I'm hoping the sergeant will throw the case out. She seemed to have concern. So…we shall see.
The day is still young. Lunch is here and I need to exercise…At least the day is bright and beautiful outside my window. Lord, please…let them throw the damn case out!
6:08pm I ended up getting to go outside for recreation. It had to be about 69 degrees or so and it was lovely. The guy I went out with played some ball with me and I lost. I'm playing horribly here recently. My mojo is zapped.
I'm winding my day down and I think I'm going to go to sleep early 'cause I'm so stressed. I've got a full plate, that's for sure.
Peace and love.
January 15th, 2008
Still no word on whether or not the bogus discipline case will stick. Usually after the initial write-up they send a guard to your cell door with a computer print-out of your discipline infraction and ask if you want to waive your hearing or not. Nobody has received the computer printed copy…yet. So, who knows? I really hope that they get tossed because for most everyone they were bogus, just a guard trying to make her portfolio look good so she can become a ranking officer. It's really sad when someone will railroad you for their personal benefit...and they call us "sociopaths…"
Storms have settled in, but it hasn't been a terribly bad day. I should be getting moved to another pod tomorrow. Good. I'm ready to go.
January 16th, 2008
I had the strangest dream last night. I was with my ex-girlfriend from high school, but we were both all grown up. Weird dream. I woke up thinking, man, where did that come from?
I went outside early this morning. It was cold and wet, but the cool air was very refreshing. I walked around and thought about life in general. I'm reading a book on Epictetus' philosophies, thinking about the human condition, and something I heard on the radio a while back came to mind. "What makes me human is not my suffering; what makes me human is my yearning to heal." I think that's pretty powerful because we're taught that human strength comes from suffering, and what we gain comes from that suffering, but I think that our strength really comes from the healing process. Whether it's physical or emotional, it's the desire that creates a spark and that spark sets fire to the driving force which is uniquely human.
Another theme that popped to mind is, "Sometimes courage is a quiet thing." I heard this recently. We believe that courage should be worn like a badge of honor, when sometimes the greatest courage is that inner yearning to drive on. It's not my suffering or heartache that pushes me. I don't need to feel pain to feel alive, but instead I want to heal from the wounds of my past. Yes, learn from the pain, but also heal and take with me into the next chapter or chapters, the desire to be a better human.
Random thoughts/things I want to do for 2008 - to be a better, more loving individual (I stumbled many times this past year and let my anger drive me at times). I want true love, but also to realize and accept that true love comes from many places. It doesn't have to be limited to a relationship. Though, it would be nice to find a woman who doesn't want to fight with me or for me, but beside me. I really want to stop letting things I have no control over bring me down and I want inner peace and the ability to let go of things that keep me from that inner peace.
Still no word on a case. We are all waiting to see if the discipline is served…Tonight I should be moved so I'm about to tidy up my cell and get my property in order.
Peace and love.
January 17th, 2008
I was moved last night and it's okay here. The cell I am in is nice and clean but exceptionally cold. The vent is blowing gale force winds and I feel like I'm living in what must be a space vacuum. Yes, this must be what it's like to travel though a black hole. I'm a dork!
Still no word of a case (fingers crossed) so things look good. Maybe I've been shown some mercy.
January 18th, 2008
TGIF…Not really, but I'm trying to keep the positive vibes going. Actually, in spite of the hardships I feel pretty effin' good. Maybe it's all of the exercise and stuff. I'm a mad man. Still no word on the discipline case. I'm actually starting to think they were all thrown away. But (don't want to jinx myself) you can never be too certain in this place. It's raining cats and dogs and cold - very cold. I had to stuff cardboard in my vent because I was tired of living in a refrigerator! You can't imagine how hard the vent was blowing! Yet, it's still like a Frigidaire refrigerator.
Peace and love.
January 19th, 2008
I am pissed...Apparently the Supreme Court has already decided on the constitutionality of using the three poisons in an execution. No, the decisions is not published yet, but I believe a decision has been made because they've kicked out (denied) five Texas cases that were pending in the Supreme Court. That means those five men can be issued an execution date. Why would they do this if they had not already decided in favor of the constitutionality of it? Many of us think this is a sure sign that soon - maybe by spring - they will crank the gears back up and get the machine rolling again. Sickening! In Texas there are a bunch of guys waiting to be executed - well over 20. Argh! When will this country take its head out of its ass?
January 20th, 2008
A bright and sunny but cold day. I'm sitting here listening to football and waiting on my laundry to finish soaking. All is quiet and well here today. Nothing to really report.
Peace and love.
January 21st, 2008
Man, where did the sunshine go? You know, last week I said I liked my cell but I've changed my mind. This pod sucks! It's wet, mildewy, there's no heat, and it's generally in pretty bad shape. The walls are leaking…
I went outside today and it was really chilly and damp, but it felt nice. I've always loved cold air and walking around in it. I haven't found any ballplayers around here so I'm just doing my normal exercises. Tonight on the news they were talking about another escape that just happened nearby. I said to my neighbor, "You know, this is just going to keep on happening more and more. You know why? Because they give no one any incentive to stay. Good time doesn't count; they hand out life sentences like they are handing out candy; there are no types of rehabilitation programs, and most of the guards are poorly trained and underpaid. It's like, what do they expect? Unless a guy is completely content in his surroundings, and has accepted that freedom comes from within, what does he have to lose? Blue Bell ice cream can only keep a person passive for so long. Thay say, "Well, we don't know why he ran." Wake up! Hey, I've said this before and I'll say it now so no one misreads me or takes me out of context, but there has to be some give and take. You can't lock up over 150,000 men and not try to rehabilitate them. If you've got a three headed monster and you only chop off one of his heads, he's still got two more! It's not a solution to just lock them up and throw away the key.
I've said my piece…
January 22nd, 2008
Today I woke up coughing and sneezing. Living on this dungeon of a pod has gotten me sick! Ugh. I can't stop coughing now. Wonderful. I don't feel like crap yet, but it seems every few hours I get a little sicker. Well, it's been quite a while since I've been sick, so…everything in cycles, I suppose.
The day is cold and still wet. I'm about to drink some hot tea and listen to the radio and relax…such fun.
January 29th, 2008
I'm getting over the worst case of the flu I've ever had in my life. Heck, I think the past week was the sickest I've ever been. It was bad. It started creeping up on me Tuesday, and I thought at the most I had a cold, but by nighttime I had cold chills. I thought, ahhhh crap! I tossed and turned all night. Wednesday I only felt worse but I tried to fight it. I got up, made my bed and got ready for recreation. I went out to the day room shivering and dizzy, but I'm not one to make a big deal about being sick. I tried to be Mr. Tough Guy and ended up puking in the day room. Yuck. A guard came by and let me go back to my cell. I brushed my teeth and crawled, clothes, shoes and all, back into bed and passed out. I felt like I was dying. I stayed in bed until Friday when I got up, forced myself back up to write a couple of letters and then I went back to sleep. Saturday I felt well enough to try to go back to recreation and so I got out of my cell. I still had the cough (and even now I can't stop coughing!) but it felt good to get out of the cell.
I was well enough yesterday to start writing again, but I was just too lazy. Though an odd thing did happen yesterday...I was called out to see some defense investigator for a guy who is mentally ill. The investigator asked me if I'd be willing to testify that I felt he was indeed mentally ill and I said I had no problem helping out because I truly believe this guy needs help and I think it was wrong to try to put him to death. So, he made no guarantee that I would be called to testify, but I could be going to Austin for a day next month.
It's a fairly warm day today and I'm trying to play catch up. Hopefully things will get back on track from this day forward. I wanted to share a story in a book I just recently read, "The Devil and Miss Prym" by Paul Coelho. The story in the book is about loyalty. It reads:
"By the way, what's this place called?"
"Heaven? But the guard at the marble gateway told me that was heaven!"
"That's not heaven, that's hell."
The traveler was puzzled.
"You shouldn't let others take your name in vain, you know! False information can lead to all kinds of confusion!"
"On the contrary, they do us a great favor, because the ones who stay there are those who have proved themselves capable of abandoning their dearest friends."
(End of story)
I thought that was a pretty powerful little anecdote. We just heard some tragic news here on death row…A guy named Jesus Flores killed himself not long ago. He was on F-pod, and they found him dead in his cell with his throat cut and lacerations to his forehead. I thought the latter was kind of odd, but still it bothers me because I have been around this guy before while I was on the discipline pod last year. He was always very content and happy-go-lucky. Loved to tell jokes and good to be around. He got along with everyone and even the guards would laugh around with him. He stayed on discipline out of choice. He would just refuse to shave or little minor things because he didn't like being on the 'normal' pods because of the way some guards treated people. I'm kind of in shock right now and no one has any clue why he did it. I guess maybe he just got tired. If I find out more I will report it. On that sad note I will end this for the day.
Peace and love.
January 30th, 2008
Man, this day really sucked. I just got moved to E-pod and it's a mad-house over here right now. It rained all day long! The good news is I'm off in a corner and out of everyone's way, so I can't complain too much. Just the noise...but I better get used to it because in Dallas County it's noisy 24-7. I'm in training.
Peace and love.
January 31st, 2008
This pod sucks! I didn't used to mind it, but they are doing everything ass backwards over here now. They are tripping majorly about recreation and showers. You can only recreate on your own section and shower on your own section. No guards are allowed to walk through the crossover doors now, so it's slowed everything down big time. You can only exit and enter from one place on the section now. We didn't get lunch until after one in the afternoon when usually it comes around nine and dinner is late now.
This morning it was storming bad. I thought that lightning would surely strike the building, as it seemed it was right outside my window. It only reflected the crap that's happened over the past few days. Dude kills himself, and now Huntsville officials in their suits and ties have swarmed this building and are looking at everything. Nuts. Oh, well, everything in cycles, I suppose.
I'm about to start reading the Cormac McCarthy book "No Country for Old Men". It looks like it'll be good, and the movie version was nominated for an Oscar. I'll give my opinion in the next few days. I'm currently reading "Infernal Angel" by Edward Lee, a very weird book.
March 2nd, 2008
March is finally here and I'm exactly one month away from being back in Dallas. It can't come soon enough. Right now some storm clouds have rolled in and it's becoming grey, but it's still warm and feels like spring. There's really nothing to write about and I just thought I'd drop in and say all is fine.
March 3rd, 2008
Man, you should see how grey it is outside right now! We just had a huge rain storm. When I went to recreation outside this morning at 6:30am, it wasn't this bad. A little overcast, but it was warm and perfect ball playing weather. And ball play I did. We started off playing some speed ball, where the first person who shoots to ten wins. Well, we played ten games total and I got the crap beat out of me. I could never get more than seven shots before each game was over. Then on one game as I was running to catch a rebound the ball hit me in my right testicle. OUCH! People might find that amusing, but I was in serious pain! The guy I was playing with said, "At least it's only half the pain." Haha. Not nice.
After getting beat up on that, we decided to work out and do push-ups. We talked for a little bit and then went to playing some football. Now, football is an interesting game. You stand at the farthest point of the court and throw the ball at the chin up bar which is bolted to the wall. If you make it through the chin up bar you get five points. If it hits the bar and bounces into the air and you catch it with one hand it's 15 points and if you catch it with two hands it's ten points. Now, this might sound simple, but it's not. There are so many different angles of steel and concrete outside that often the ball will hit the bar and then hit the concrete or steel. When this happens it's like playing pinball. It bounces around and you end up running in all directions to catch the ball. Often you want to dive for the SOB, but the reality of hitting concrete stops you from trying to catch it. The first person to 100, wins. We played ten games of this and I won 6-4. Right before we came back inside it started to rain. I'm hoping that on Thursday when it's our next outside day it will be nice and sunny. The storms aren't supposed to stay too long.
The day has been relaxing and now I'm just killing time. I keep listening for primary up-dates and right now on early votes Hillary Clinton and Obama are in a dead tie in Texas. Man, tomorrow is going to be exciting. I can't wait.
March 4th, 2008
Today started off on a scary note, but then progressed toward a better day. Right now as I write this it's absolutely beautiful outside, my cell bathed in sunlight. I'm listening to updates on the primaries and right now in the early exit polls Obama is holding a lead - only a small lead, but a lead nonetheless.
I was sleeping well when around five o'clock in the morning a guy in two cell began to yell for the guards because his neighbor in one cell was having a medical problem of some sort. I wasn't sure as to what was happening, so I kind of rolled back over and tried to go back to sleep. I heard the intercom in the walk-way come on and the guard, apparently disturbed from his nap, said, "What?" Two cell responded, "Hey, my neighbor is having a medical problem. He's complaining of chest pains and a sharp pain in his left arm." The guard replied,"So? What do you want me to do about it?" "Put in a medical request." I hadn't quite registered all of this in my sleep induced daze, but I got out of bed and asked the guy in two cell what was going on. He said that his neighbor was feeling bad with pains in his arm and chest. I said, "Crap, it sounds like he's having a heart attack!" At this point I was wide awake. Now everyone was and we all began to scream for the guard's attention. "What!?" he said again on the intercom. The guy in two cell said, "Look, we think he's having a heart attack. He's not responding to us and one of you jerks needs to come down and check on him."
We were all beating and kicking on the doors trying to get someone's attention. My heart was pounding because no one was doing anything. I was so angry that this guard was just ignoring us. Finally we heard the section gate pop open and a female guard came in to see what all the fuss was about. Two cell told her and she checked on one cell and he was passed out or unconscious. We weren't sure. She starts screaming and FINALLY guards start showing up from other places. They called medical and a couple of nurses showed up with a gurney and they loaded him up and took him out. He was still alive, but one of the nurses said he was indeed having a heart attack.
I was angry because the guy could have died. This happens all the time. We have no way of getting the guard's attention unless we all bang and scream and half the time they just ignore us, thinking we're being noisy for nothing. Most of the guards will respond, but there is always some asshole who thinks it's funny or we're just disturbing his precious nap time. It's all fun and games until someone dies or commits suicide. Anyway, I'm assuming the guy is still at the hospital or wherever they took him. I hope he's okay.
I couldn't really get back to sleep after that so I just laid in bed and listened to the radio. A little after seven I got up and began to exercise before they started showers. Today is a no recreation day for our section, so all we get is showers. Still, the day is nice and when I get done writing this I'll begin writing a memoir of my experience in prison. I think it's about time I got all of that out of me. I don't know why I haven't written about it. Mostly when I think about those years out in general population, it's just a big empty white space. I mean, the memories are there, but I don't think about them. I definitely don't sit around and reminisce about them. Pretty much from the time I got locked up in September of 1996, even now those years are largely a big void. It's like they don't exist, which is weird, but maybe it's some sort of psychological defense mechanism. Weird. I suppose I will get to it and end this here.
It's 9:41pm and now the race is too close to call. The polls in Texas now have Clinton ahead. Same for Ohio. Obama won Vermont and Clinton won Rhode Island. McCain has won the GOP nomination so he will be campaigning for president. This is all quite exciting. I'm pacing my cell, only stopping every now and then to switch stations. Right now I'm on NPR, but I've been bouncing around NBC, CBS, ABC (I do not listen to Fox under any circumstances).
10:00pm...Hillary Clinton just won Ohio. Still too close to call in Texas. Man, this Democratic primary is going to keep on going on. Ugh! If it is still undecided it gives John McCain a head start on his presidential campaign.
11:30 P.M...Texas is still up in the air, but Hillary is ahead - barely. She seems to have gotten most of the Latino votes. That's what has given her the lead. I'm too tired to wait around and see who wins so I'm going to bed.
March 5th, 2008
It has been a beautiful spring-like day. I could live with every day just as it is. Well, Hillary won Texas so the primaries continue on for the Democrats. Obama argues that no matter what, he will still wind up with the most delegates. Meanwhile, McCain can take advantage of the time. What I worry about most is if Obama does lose then unless he's offered the vice presidency the Democratic Party will fracture. Now, with John McCain he owes none of the Republican elders anything because of the way they've bashed him so it's possible he will now move more to the center. If this happens he could steal Democratic votes. Still I can't agree with his war mongering views so I hope this doesn't happen. We cannot afford to have another Republican. The following key primaries for the Dems are as follows:
Pennsylvania, April 22
North Carolina and Indiana, May 6
Puerto Rico, June 7
The fight for the presidential nomination goes on. I just finished reading Barak Obama's book, "Dreams from My Father". It was a very good memoir. A friend recommended it. Now I've just started reading The Golden Compass, which is a fantasy book. It's quite good so far. I love British humor and it's full of it. I actually think it's written much better than Harry Potter. (Okay, I'm a dork!) Oh, the guy who had the heart attack is still gone, but we've heard he is okay. They're holding him in the infirmary for observation. Keep him in your prayers.
Peace and love.
March 6th, 2008
A big ass storm has just blown in. Not three hours ago it was warm and sunny, but now it's chilly and nasty. A weather report said there's a small chance of snow! In Southeast Texas! I swear this place is the twilight zone.
I went outside to play basketball today. I got my buttocks whooped bad, twenty games to…zero. Zilch. Nada. I just couldn't win, and it wasn't like I was half-assing it either. I ran so hard I damn near gave myself an asthma attack - and I don't have asthma! It probably would have been worse, but the guy I was playing got called out for a visit. I stayed outside after that by my lonesome and sang to myself.
I finished The Golden Compass today. What a magical book! I couldn't put it down. Definitely one of the best books I've read in a while. Now I have to read books two and three or I'll go nuts. I loved this book. Now I'm about to get back into war history. I've got three books lined up about WWII, Vietnam and the Iraq War.
The only thing left to do tonight is listen to the show, "Lost." Last week's episode was too damn good. Chilling and a tear jerker. I'm hooked.
March 7th, 2008
It's storming right now and cold, but not cold enough to snow. Commissary just came and my neighbor bought me a pint of ice cream. That was cool of him. I try to do for others when I can so it's always a pleasant treat when another returns the good will. It's best appreciated when it's not expected. I don't think you should ever give up hope of reciprocation. Like, one thing I find annoying is when preachers say you've got to give to be blessed by God. It's always good to give, even if you've done it begrudgingly, but to think that you'll be blessed just because you give….like, "Oh, yeah, I going to give this to such and such charity and then maybe God will give me that new Cadillac I've always wanted…" Craziness! Eh, I'm going off on a tangent.
Not much else is happening around here. Just wasting time really and eating ice cream.
Peace and love.
March 10th, 2008
I've just about had it with Texas weather. Yesterday was a really nice day and when I woke up this morning it was still really nice. I got up, shaved my head and face and got ready to go outside to play some basketball. When I went out it felt really nice, a rising sun above us with a nice baby blue sky. I stretched and picked up the basketball and the games began. I finally won eight games to six. Yay for me! Then I wrapped my hands and started boxing the basketball. It's pretty good cardio. You just punch the ball against the wall and try not to let it hit the ground. After doing thirty minutes of that and a bloody knuckle, I stopped. Then the wind picked up and grey clouds moved in. I looked up at the sky and told the guy I was outside with that it looked like it was about to rain. Sure enough, the sky opened up and it began to pour.
It wasn't really cold; the wind made the rain chilly, but it also brought a very fresh smell, which I loved. I think we spent about 45 minutes in the rain before the guards brought us back in. I really didn't mind, I'm just sick and tired of it raining every other day. Other than that it's been a fairly routine day. I have to help this guy named Elkie, who can't write, to file a grievance later on because a couple of guards keep on picking on him because he's a little slow. It's kind of aggravating to see them do this to him, but then at times he has a smart mouth so he sort of starts the problems. Anyway, the issue I'm going to help him grieve on this time is they refused him breakfast this morning.
See, for the last month we've had nothing but pancakes for breakfast (or so I'm told; I don't get up for breakfast). The food arrives on a cart than can only hold about 42 meals. There are 84 people to a pod, but because everyone is sick and tried of pancakes they refuse their trays (you have to give the officer what they call a 'VR '- verbal refusal). Now, there are some guys who for health/medical reasons get a special tray. These are called 'Diet for Health'. Usually these trays have some extra fruit or peanut butter. With all the VR's they have they can feed a whole pod on one food cart. They don't have to take the cart back to the kitchen to refill it with trays.
Elkie gets up every morning for breakfast and never VR's a tray. So, when the guard tried to give him a regular tray he said, "I get a diet tray." The guard said, "We don't have any diet trays so you'll have to take this one." They argued back and forth and Elkie continued to tell the guard that he wanted his tray. Finally the guard said, "Well, then you refuse your tray 'cause it ain't on the cart and I ain't going to get it." Elkie went without his breakfast. Now, this happens a lot because some of the guards are just too lazy to do their job and either go back to the cart or go to the kitchen and get it. And good luck getting a ranking officer on the night shift to come down and talk to you about it, 'cause it's just not happening. I mean, look at the guy who was having a heart attack…Elkie's only avenue now is to write a grievance and he can't unless someone helps him because he's illiterate. It's a crazy world I live in. Suppose I'll holler down at him now and get it out of the way.
March 11th, 2008
Today our section didn't have any recreation, so it took forever to finally get motivated to do something. Right now it's 7:04pm and the sun is beginning to set outside my window. I can't really see it as there are buildings in my line of sight, but I can see the sunlight dimming.
They just had shift change and there's a bunch of new guards, mostly women. They never last long. The turnover rate is so high here. I mean, who really wants to work in a prison? I'd say with each batch of new workers not even 70% of them stay to work. You probably get paid and treated better working at McDonalds. Though it is always weird to see so many women who start working here. Maybe they think it's exciting, but once the novelty wars off, they quit. Or once they see someone spanking his monkey or cussing them out? I don't know. Weird stuff. Why would you want to work here?
Nothing to report really. Just one of those ho-hum days.
March 12th, 2008
So last night they fired up those newly installed stadium lights for the death row buildings and man are those babies bright. It lit up the side of my cell as bright as daylight. I've never, not once, blocked my window since I've been on DR, but I had to last night. It was just too much light. What a waste of money. What does making this building visible from outer space accomplish? Your tax dollars at work…
I'm in kind of a grumpy mood right now because I was just moved to the worst section on this whole building. I'm back on E-pod, the Ad-Seg pod with guys who don't face the death penalty. However, they didn't have any empty cells on the Level 1 section (where they keep those who behave) but instead put me on the Level 2 section. It's a freaking madhouse. Just a bunch of guys yelling, screaming and cussing at everything that passes by.
Before this pod was Ad-Seg it was a death row pod. The cell I'm currently in has some history. Funny and sad. About three years ago a guy hanged himself in it. And about five years ago a guy had somehow gotten hold of a hacksaw blade and cut the door completely off in a not so well thought out attempt to escape. You can still see hacksaw marks on the edges of the door frames. It's kind of funny.
Don't think I'll be getting much sleep tonight. Argh…well, guess I better get settled in and unpack my things and clean up this cell.
March 13th 2008
Zero sleep last night. Not even two seconds. I'm in a really bad mood right now. This whole day has been sorry. Last night these yahoos kicked and screamed and just made as much noise as possible. I even tried sleeping with my headphones on and it wouldn't block out the noise. I just tossed and turned. Then a little after six in the morning as I was getting ready to recreate, the guards gassed someone, so I spent about forty-five minutes coughing and sneezing. Around nine I was called out for a visit with my lawyer and I was looking forward to that, as I thought we'd be talking about my trip to Dallas. Wrong. Once again my hearings have been postponed. Now they are set for June. To add insult to injury, I was told I would not be going to Dallas, but instead the judge wants to hold them via a video conference. So, what they would do is take me to some room in G-d knows where and I would watch the hearings on a video monitor instead of actually being there. Oh, I was upset. I really hyped myself up a lot, and even told my friends about the big trip to Dallas, and now it's not even going to happen. You can't begin to understand how badly I needed this trip. I thought it would be great; something to give me a fresh, new perspective and maybe add a little life to my ever growing stale journal. I just wanted to get away from this place, clear my head, see some friends from my hometown, and talk on the phone. I wanted to see the world outside of the walls on the drive to Dallas. I wanted to see the city. I just wanted to get away from this hell hole. I wanted to get away from death's lingering presence. Gee, thanks, technology for getting in the way of this. But what can you do? Not a damn thing, obviously. I'll get over it.
About the only good thing to happen today was scoring a water hose. Woo-hoo. Now I can shower in my cell after I exercise instead of waiting on these guards. Movie night tonight. I'm going to listen to "The Crow" and go back and forth between that and the show "Lost." "The Crow" is one of my all-time favorite movies.
Not much else to write about unless you want to hear me whine. I'll spare you that, of course.
March 14th, 2008
Still not getting any sleep…I just can't believe how noisy it is around here. Madness. Actually, the day wasn't all that bad. I was able to go outside for about four hours and that was just lovely. I played some ball and exercised and then worked my frustrations out on the ball by boxing it. I hadn't realized how hard I was hitting it until my knuckles swelled and started turning purple. Guess I'll be taking a break from that for a while. I'm just really stressed right now.
It was about 85 degrees which was just right. I'm hoping this warm weather is here to stay. I really wish I had more to say, but my brain is about fried from lack of sleep, so…
March 15th, 2008
I've never lost so much sleep in my life! The only way I can sleep is to sleep on these yahoo's sleep schedule, and that would just completely screw up my whole routine. I'd miss recreation and showers and everything else, and I can't do it, so sleep deprivation is my only choice. I'm soooo close to begging the guards to move me. I heard that 8 cell opened up so maybe…I can't do two weeks of this.
It is a beautiful day, though. Plenty of sunshine and birds flying around outside. Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street? See, I'm getting delirious. I can hear Big Bird talking to me. What's that you say, Big Bird? You're hungry and you're thinking about eating Elmo? Don't do it! Don't eat Elmo! Run Elmo! Run!
I gotta get some sleep…
March 16th, 2008
Can you believe it? I actually got eight hours of sleep last night!!! I think I passed out sometime after midnight. I was listening to some weird late night movie and it had gotten pretty quiet and I just fell out. The only time my sleep was disturbed was a little after four in the morning. They were doing cell searches in the next section over and passing out breakfast at the same time so I was hungry and got up for breakfast, ate, and rolled back over to sleep.
By the time I woke up it was bright, and sunlight was pouring into my cell. I kind of just laid there debating if I wanted to take advantage of the relative quiet of the section and sleep a little longer, or just get my day started. I crawled out of bed and got up. Why mess up my daily routine?
Right now I've got laundry soaking in the sink and I'm listening to KDOL. It's kind of noisey right now and I'm hoping these yahoos go ahead and stay up so that they'll go to sleep tonight because I'm going to have to get up at six in the morning for recreation.
Not much else is happening around here and my thoughts are kind of blah today. I don't have anything to comment on. Sometimes writing a journal every day is mundane and pointless, but it is what it is.
Peace and love.
March 17th, 2008
Today has been one long drawn out boring day. I didn't get any sleep last night - I knew the sleep I got Saturday night was too good to be true. Oddly enough, yesterday on the show "60 Minutes" they had a report on the importance of sleep. Did you know that getting behind the wheel tired is more dangerous than drinking and driving? All it takes is for you to have what they call 'mircosleep' in which you may doze off for a second or two and next thing you know, wham, you're on the wrong side of the road, etc. They also said that not getting deep sleep time is just as bad as not sleeping at all...You need at least one hour of truly deep sleep paired with your regular sleep. A person can die from not getting enough sleep. And that's the lesson for today.
Right now it's really humid and warm. I've got my workout clothes hanging to dry and they've been wet all day. Tomorrow is our outside day so I look forward to that. Not much happening right now. See what I mean about my journal getting stale? This is one reason why I wanted to go back to Dallas so badly...because I needed something to write about.
March 30th, 2008
Sigh…I'm struggling here because I've been super-depressed lately. So much disappointment catching up with me: no trip to Dallas, ex-wife who's pregnant, good friend sent back to death row after his retrial. I feel a bit suffocated right now. Sorry.
April 1st, 2008
A new month, a new day and the sun is shining after a really hard storm…I woke up this morning determined to get out of my funk. I've felt like a train hit me over the past few weeks. Things just seemed to keep stacking up and the loss of sleep didn't help. It was funny in a way, too, because they had moved all of the AD-SEG disciplinaries to F-pod about four days before I was moved, and I thought, "Whew! Finally I'll be able to sleep." I was so happy…Not thirty minutes later they moved a crazy guy next to me. I felt sorry for him in a way and was as nice as possible to him, giving him some cookies and coffee when he asked for it, but all he would do is sing and clap and laugh all night long and half the day. Have you ever chased sleep? You look for those quiet moments when you can lie down and take advantage of it…And then bang-bang-bang on your cell wall and a "Hey, Randy! Randy, homeboy, can I have a shot of coffee and cookies?!!?" in rapid fire speech at decibels loud enough to rattle your brain. Sleep runs away laughing at you. I was on the verge of a mental breakdown.
Finally, last Thursday I was moved and shocked at how quiet it was on the section I was moved to, but by then I was already in a deep depression. I was upset that I should've been in Dallas, my friend Ving was sent back to death row after a retrial, I was upset over my recent break up and then I got news that my ex-wife is pregnant. That was like kicking me when I was already down, because all I could do was think about the fact that I will never have the chance to have children of my own. That's a very painful realization. No little Randys running around. Well, actually I'm not sure if I want little Randys running around, but a kid or two would be nice. But the sun is out again and I feel okay.
So, right now our section has been battling these giant mutant cockroaches that are coming out of the drains on the run. I'm not kidding. These suckers look like something out of a Godzilla movie. I was sitting here writing a letter when I saw something shoot across my floor. I panicked, grabbed my flip-flop and threw it on top of him. I could see the back legs squirming and then that thing bench-pressed my sandal like it was nothing, pushed himself out and looked around dazed. I let out a scream like a little girl and grabbed a piece of paper and picked it up and threw him in the toilet. Before I flushed the poor fella, I stared at him for a minute or two and this thing is truly freakish. It's hind legs are like gecko legs and it was about an inch and a half long. This one guy who had one run into his cell commented that it was the Livingston water that mutated them, "You know, like on that movie, "Ticks"? Them mother fuckers were huge and would crawl into your body and eat themselves out of you. This one scene it came busting out of this guy's skull!" Great, just what we need - giant mutant cockroaches crawling into our ears while we sleep, eating themselves out of our brains. Well, I'm ready for the next one that tries to come into my cell. I've got my sandal on stand-by.
Not much else to report around here. I'm going to stand on my bed and look outside for a while. Birds are coming back and pecking grass looking for something to eat. Spring is finally here.
April, 2nd, 2008
Okay…So, today my worry has been focused on my friend Ving, who was just re-sentenced to death. The other day I had sent him some reading material and some food because he mentioned he didn't have anything and this morning it was all sent back to me with no explanation. I know that he's really depressed and hurting. I just hope he's not thinking about hurting himself. I don't really know what to do about it. I think if I get any more negative signs like that I may have to alert the guards or some rank, because I just don't want him to hurt himself. He's really in a bad way…It's almost four in the afternoon and I'm waiting to go to recreation right now. Things are moving really slow today for some reason…Oh, well.
April 3rd, 2008
It's raining pretty hard right now. But it's one of those peaceful storms, the kind that if I had a window that opened it would be pulled up a little to let in the soft breeze created by the rain. The kind of rain that brings in the various smells of nature, grass, trees, roads and even the hint of cars somewhere in the distance. Isn't it awesome that creatures such as we are, can experience life in such a way? If only we took the time to enjoy it I think we'd appreciate life a lot more. Being in the kind of situation that I am on death row, it's really the small things that matter. I might cry and complain every now and then about how I'm sick of rain or sick of this and that, but really, as I hear the rain tap up against my window it makes me grateful that I can still have these small experiences, something the state or the guards can't take away from me. You could remove every little item from my cell and I'd still be able to listen to rain. I guess today I'm in a tranquil mood.
I sent a message over to Ving not too long ago and asked if he was okay. He sent me a note back saying that he was going to try to pull himself out of his depression. He said that he didn't want material things (snacks, books, etc) sent to him, but just wanted real friends. I feel bad for him because outside of a girlfriend who writes, he really has no kind of moral support and I can't be there for him because I get moved around so damn much. It may be months before I'm able to talk to him again. He's a guy I've really connected with back here and it hurts me that he's hurting this way. Empathy is a mother f---er. I just don't want him to give up. I don't want any guy back here to give up. But what can I do? Just thinking about how useless I really am in a situation such as this is really depressing!
Almost dinner time, I suppose I will end this here. Me and a couple of guys are going to listen to "Stake Out" the movie at seven. I vaguely remember it, but I think I was about ten when that movie came out. Where I'm currently housed is great because we make silly commentary as the movie is on. Kind of like on that show that used to come on "Mystery Science Theater" where the two robots and that guy would make fun of voices as they played. Hey, it's something to pass the time. Plus, my improv skills are rusty. It's what we call "fun" around here.
April 4th, 2008
A friend sent me this questionnaire and I thought, why not just use it as a journal entry. Okay, so I admit it's 'filler' because today was BORING, but it's something! Anyway, here it is....
1. If I could rename myself, I would pick: I like my middle name so it would be 'Ethan.'
2. I am like my mom because I: Because we both had the same kind of sense of humor and liked the same movies. I miss her so much.
3. I am like my dad because I: Because we are Jewish and both love to tell stories. Plus, I find myself giving others the same wisdom and advice he shared with me. I miss him so much.
4. When I get really nervous, I tend to: Shut down or pace back and forth and chew my fingernails…
5. Most people can tell when I get mad/angry because I: shut down and bottle it in.
6. My most irrational fear would be: Being afraid of insects and reptiles.
7. My completely rational fear is: Dying alone.
8. Within ten minutes of meeting me, it is impossible not to notice that: I'm a very self deprecating, funny and shy person. Well, shy, but charismatic, if that makes sense.
9. Nothing makes me happier than: Being in love, having friends who care.
10. Nothing makes me angrier than: People who do not care about other people or life.
11. The physical feature I get the most compliments on is/are: My eyes and lips.
12. If I could change one physical thing it would be: My freakin' love handles, fat around my waist, and have a hair transplant. Being bald sucks.
13. I cannot stand the smell of: Broccoli or cauliflower, body odor.
14. I live for the smell of: Too many things to smell, but oddly fabric softener used to bring me to near orgasmic experience!
15. I could never marry someone who: Isn't loving, funny, or doesn't love life.
16. If I had any political clout in this country, I would: End the death penalty, reform prisons.
17. If high school taught me anything, it would be: That kids can be some mean sons of bitches.
18. I get extremely embarrassed when: I'm complimented.
19. The trait that most of my friends have in common is: We love humanity, loyalty.
20. In a relationship, romantic or friend wise, my biggest flaw is: I'm too dependent.
21. In a relationship, romantic or friend wise, my best quality is: I'm dedicated, loyal, giving and loving.
22. I really wish that I knew how to: Compose the music I constantly hear in my head, to paper.
23. My favorite word(s) is: Retard (simple, I know, but I use it a lot!). Maybe 'freakin' too.
24. My least favorite word is: Bitch.
25. I am ashamed to admit that I really enjoy: reading chick magazines/Big Brother.
26. I wish that I could MAKE myself enjoy: Chess.
27. If I am losing an argument, I have a tendency to: Stop talking about it.
28. Myspace is: Kind of retarded, but addictive.
29. I'm pretty sure my credit rating is: Huh? Credit rating on death row? HAHAHAHAHA-HA!
April 5th, 2008
Man! What a beautiful day it is outside. The sun is pouring through my window and it's just lovely. Too bad I'm stuck in the damn cell for the next two days. I miss the days when we could go to recreation every day for one hour a day. Now, we have to stay in our cells for two days out of the week because we get two hour recs. Some guys like this, but I thought the old program was much better. Oh, well.
Not much happening. Just listening to movies and reading. A friend down the run is supposed to make bean burritos, so we'll see what his cookin' skills are all about. Actually I think he's making beef burritos for him and his neighbor and just beans for me, but he said he'd fatten them up. I hope so 'cause I'm hungry.
April 7th, 2008
I ran across this quote from Nietzsche today, whilst reading a book called Man's Search for Meaning. "He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how." I think I do have something to live for; my life is definitely not over, so surely I can overcome any hardships thrown in my way. After all, it's only transitional, right?
Today was a really nice day. I thought it was going to start with a bump in the road…Today is our outside day and the section I'm currently living on hardly anyone goes outside. So, when the guard asked me at six on the morning if I was going outside, I said, "Yes." He said I was going first round so I asked if I could go with a guy just down the run. He said, "I'll only allow you to go outside with him if you both give up your shower." I looked at him crazy. "Both showers? He's just two cells away. It's not like you're going out of your way." He wouldn't budge so I said, "I don't mind. I have a water hose. I doubt he'll give up his shower." The guard walked down to his cell and asked him and the other guy agreed to give up his shower. "You'll be going second round then," the guard said. I was a little irritated, but I just went back to sleep until eight or so.
When we went outside it was a little overcast, but about 30 minutes in the sun came out in all of its glory. I played a few games of basketball barefoot, because I currently have no tennis shoes, and then after my feet started to hurt we just did push-ups and I boxed the basketball. Well, an incident cropped up on another pod so we were able to stay outside for almost four hours, and I got my first good sunburn of the season. When I came back in a female guard said, "What's up, Pinky? Looks like you got burned." I laughed. So, really giving up my shower was worth it, otherwise we wouldn't have gotten that extra time outside. I feel like I got the upper hand. When I came back in I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, bathed with my hose and cleaned my cell. The rest of the time I've just been reading away. I'm reading two books. Next up as I listen to KDOL is to do some crosswords until mail comes.
I'll close with this: "Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess, except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation. You cannot control what happens to you in life, but you can control what you will feel and do about what happens to you" Viktor E. Frankl.
April 8th, 2008
Today has been an interesting day. Nothing like a little drama to keep you on your toes. It all started after a guy heard another guy talking behind his back. He confronted the dude and told him that, "If that's how you feel about me and can't be man enough to say anything to my face, then just don't mess with me…" Well, the other guy felt disrespected and told some of his buddies and then it just turned into a big cat fight. Yeah, cat fight, because they were all acting like little girls. So, then I got dragged into it when I went to the dayroom. Because I talk to both parties, another guy basically asked whose side I was on. I said that I wasn't on anyone's side and that I didn't want to be on any side and to leave me out of it. "I talk to who I want to talk to and expect to be treated the same way I treat people. If you can't do that then act like I don't exist."
It's frustrating that some of us on death row cannot just stick together and make a change for the better and fight for the same cause. It's frustrating when some would rather squabble and waste their precious time here on earth rather than try to save their own life. But what can you do? I try to encourage and live by example, but there's always someone who wants to drag you down with them. Well, I'm staying out of their little mess.
Other than that the day has been really warm. It's a bit humid but an otherwise beautiful spring day.
April 9th, 2008
Woke up and went to recreation at six this morning. I did some working out and then wrote a letter in the day room. It's usually the most quiet and peaceful time of the day. The drama continues and it's escalated a bit, though. I hope one of these idiots doesn't end up trying to hurt the other. It's sad that our lives are reduced to this pettiness. Read a book; write a letter to mom or something. If you don't want to save your life, at least make it meaningful in some way. I hope I get moved tonight. See, that's one of the advantages!
It's a bit overcast right now. I think we're going to get some storms. Weird how our weather here in Livingston always coincides with the moods of everyone. I swear I live in the twilight zone.
April 10th, 2008
Today I went to the lake. Well, if you want to call a flooded outside recreation yard a lake. It was fun! Nobody wanted to go outside because it was raining but since it was warm I decided to go out and experience the peacefulness. I grabbed a towel and slid on my flip flops, grabbed my water bottle and headed out. A guy in the dayroom said, "Randy, where are you going?" as the guards led me away, and I said, "To the lake!"
Really it was only sprinkling a little bit. A nice spring sprinkle and I was lost in my head when suddenly one of those giant mutant cockroaches crawled out from one of the storm drains. Next thing I knew we were in a battle to the death with each other. He tried to kick me with one of his giant lizard-like legs and I blocked it Chuck Norris style and went for the sweep. We wrestled on the ground for a minute and I tried with all my might to keep his mandibles from tearing at my throat…Uh, actually what really happened is the thing crawled from out of the drain and I screamed like a little girl. It scuttled around in the water, looked at me like, "What's the freakin' problem?" and darted back down the drain.
All in all, I enjoyed my time in the rain. Last night, to ease the tensions of the drama during the last few days, me, a guy named 'Country', and another guy named 'Hood' listened to TV shows and goofed around. There was a National Geographic program on about killer whales and Country couldn't believe that orcas can run on a beach, grab a sea lion and toss it back to the sea and flip it around. For the longest time I'd been trying to do a perfect Cartman from the cartoon "South Park" and I said, "Yeah, imagine Country swimming out in the sea (Kicking in my Cartman voice), "Ohh, what a lovely swim! Ohhh, look at all the sea lions, they sure are big." (Back to normal voice) "So, Country is swimming around when all of a sudden one of those orcas pops up" (back to Cartman's voice), "Look, it's Shamu. C'mere, you cute thing, you. I want to pet you and keep you as my pet! Want a Twinkie?" (Back to normal voice) "Then the orca tries to bite him" (back to Cartman's voice) "Hey! You're not supposed to do that! Eh eh eh eh, gotta swim to shore eh eh eh eh gotta swim to shore. Mom! Shamu's trying to eat me!" Man everyone was laughing so hard. Even I couldn't stop laughing. Hood said, "Damn, Randy, you did that voice dead on."
I told Hood that at one time I could do many different cartoon voices and accents. I started working through them. My list of them is as follows: Yoda, Kermit the Frog, Grover, Pinky from Pinky the Brain, Marvin, Bobby from Bobby's World, Gizmo and Stripe from Gremlins, several different southern dialects, a bad British accent, Indian, Russian. I'm pretty bad at doing people; cartoons are much easier because they are more exaggerated. I'm a dork, but it brings laughs so it's all good.
Crap. They just told me I'm moving to F-pod, 76 Cell. That's the Level 3 death row discipline section. Wonderful. No, I'm not in trouble. They just like putting me in these sections for some reason. Gotta pack.
9:30pm...Man, that sucks! Not only did they put me on a bad section, but they put me in what's called a "management" cell. It's got a big box over what should be the food slot. The box has two slots. One to slide the food in and close it and then the other slot opens and you pull your food out and it closes. This keeps you from ever having direct contact with anyone. It's mainly used for those who attack guards and/or throw feces and urine on them. Over the mesh windows is a plate of Plexiglas and the door is sealed up completely on the side. To top that off there's nothing to hook my radio up to so I can't get crap for reception…Oh, well, I'd normally be upset and it'd ruin my whole two weeks, but it's only two weeks and I can still get a few radio stations, so it's not all that bad. I'll deal with it. No reason to complain over something that is beyond my control. Really, I did it to myself anyway. I should've never freakin' escaped eight years ago. The mistakes that follow us for the rest of our lives, I guess. Two weeks isn't anything. I can get caught up on reading and writing.
April 11th, 2008
It hasn't been that bad over here. I'm looking for wire in the hopes that I can string up my cell and pull in some decent music. Right now all I'm getting is "Country Legends," an 80s cheese station, KDOL and some Tejano. Better than nothing, but still…I received another one of those fun little questionnaires and so I thought I'd do it in today's journal. Something to do and laugh at, I guess. Here it is. Enjoy!
What color best represents you? Really earth tones in general, but you can't go wrong with black.
Who would you cast to play you in a movie? Uhh, probably Billy Zane 'cause we're both bald.
What celebrity best represents your vision of fashion? George Clooney seems to dress well, but then again while I like to dress cool, I like down to earth fashion and even alternative fashion, so too tough to say.
If you could star in any TV show, which one would it be? Heroes!
If you were on MTV's "Made" what would you ask to be? What the hell, "Made"? I thought that was a Mafia term…
Who are you voting for? If I could vote, it'd be Obama.
Have you ever cried while watching a movie? Too many times to count. I like sappy movies.
Do you wear makeup because you think you're ugly? Uh, not even make-up could help this mug!
Name your closest five friends from 12 years ago. Can I say 13 years ago? It'd be Jason, Chad, Theresa, Jim and Wayne.
Do you think childhood trauma justified current life? Justifies? That makes no sense...Influences, yes, definitely.
You see a falling star, what do you wish? An end to the death penalty…true love/soul mate…maybe freedom one day after I serve my debt to society.
How fun was that? Well, I guess I'll get to some reading. I'm reading a book called Wild Fire by Nelson DeMille and then I'm going to start reading a book I just received this morning called "What's So Great About Christianity?", a counter argument to what atheists think about religion. Should be interesting.
April 13th, 2008
I was sleeping really well until I was knocked out of dreamland by the sound of someone yelling, "No peace! No justice!" I was a little confused, so I rolled out of bed and climbed on my toilet to look out a small crack in my door...I saw an inmate sitting on the ground. Apparently, he refused to go to his cell after his shower because of the reason he was on level 3 discipline in the first place. What had happened is a week ago his family came to visit him. Well, there was another inmate who had the same last name and they confused him with this person. That person was turned away and when the guy expecting his visit found out about this he was rightfully angry. He tried to talk to rank and the problems escalated because rank didn't give a damn and so he jacked the day room, and was gassed and placed on level 3. Well, all this past week he had been trying to get this problem addressed and no one really cared, so he jacked the walkway run this morning. The little riot squad came down and forced him back into his cell and then the lieutenant said, "This is the last time we deal with you. If we have to do it again I'm going to hurt you." Of course he said this after the cameras were gone.
Not 50 minutes after that the riot team was dragging another guy into a cell down here because he jacked the shower on another pod. He was banged up pretty bad so I'm guessing they beat the crap out of him. You can't really move around in those showers as they are only about 4' X 5 ½'. Imagine five or six hefty men running in on you like a freight train. Ouch. Every time I'm on F-Pod this happens. I've never been on this pod and not seen someone get beat up by the guards, or gassed. Crazy stuff. Well, things have calmed down for now. It's really a nice cool spring day. I stood on my bed and watched out the window as cars passed by. It's a peaceful thing to do. I wish I was in a cell where I could watch the horses. I can't really see them on this side.
April 14th, 2008
Right now I've got a splitting headache from lack of caffeine. I have an ongoing battle with that crap and I'll want to stop and then I'll think, hey, one cup of coffee can't hurt and then it's right off the wagon I go again. So, right now I'm trying to stop drinking the crap again and it's not looking like I'm going to make it.
Well, other than a crappy ass letter I got from my ex-wife just a short while ago, today was okay. I went outside and while it wasn't too hot, the sun was out and I did get a nice little burn. I'm a lovely shade of red right now and my face feels hot. I finished reading "What's So Great About Christianity" and it was so-so. To me it was the same tired arguments, but what do I know. I always think it's odd that these kinds of books make stronger cases for G-d than Jesus. Or they're the same right? Eh, I'm a Jew what do I know? That was not meant to be offensive.
I guess I'm in a little bit of a foul mood. I swear, I don't understand women at all. I mentioned that my ex-wife was pregnant, so I sent her a congratulatory letter and SHE gave her new address and wanted me to write her! So, there was nothing inflammatory about what I wrote her. Just being the friend I thought I was...Then, I get this note today that says, "I have to close that chapter in my life, so please don't write me again because I want to respect my fiancée". Fiancée!?! After knowing the dude for like four months now??? Reading it I'm like, huh? Where did that come from? But whatever…Apparently I'm just a chapter in someone's life, and now I see my worth. Seem to be getting a lot of that lately. Oh, well…
I guess I'm going to start reading book two of a trilogy called His Dark Materials. The first book was The Golden Compass (also a movie) and it really surprised me at how good it was. Book two is called The Subtle Knife, hopefully it is as good. As I said before, this puts Harry Potter to shame. Off to bookland I go…
April 15th, 2008
I woke up this morning and my bald head was sore. My dome was thoroughly cooked yesterday. Ouch!
Today has been kind of boring. Just reading and waiting on some more wire from someone. I'm determined to get at least one TV station, preferably CBS so I don't miss Big Brother. God, what has that show done to me? I've NEVER been this addicted to a TV show. I'm not a fan of reality TV even if it's a guilty pleasure, but Big Brother is like the…Okay, I can't stop laughing. My weird sense of humor was going to allow me to write, "like the teat I can't quit suckling," but then I realized that while funny, it makes no sense. Still funny, though…All right, wire has arrived. Let's see what I can do…Yes! It worked! I feel like a mad scientist. I have what is basically a spider web of wire running everywhere and then all into my signal booster I can get a staticky CBS and ABC. I am not complaining! But…In the process I was able to pick up the nearby airport's communications. I'm not kidding! I just heard, "Continental flight 356, flying flight path…" Actually, it's kind of cool.
Ooh mail is early! Gotta go read my mail and get ready for Big Brother. I hope Natalie is on the chopping block. Please if there's any real justice in the universe she'll be on the block!
April 16th, 2008
Good riddance Natalie! Yes! She's just been kicked off of Big Brother. Man, Sheila is good. She totally made that happen. Here's what happened...yesterday Adam (who was on the block with Shannon) won power of veto meaning he could take himself off of the chopping block. Sheila had been gunning for Natalie all along but was being two-faced and says, "I have to do this, Natalie, and put you on the block, but you're safe. Don't worry." Meanwhile, she wants her gone. She was even apologizing to Natalie with fake tears. Classic! Then Adam and Ryan ask Natalie who her loyalty is with - with them or the other women. Natalie says them (the guys). Natalie starts begging the guys not to kick her out and Adam promises her he won't vote against her. Ryan is non-committal, but I'm thinking, "You morons. If you let her stay she will kick one of you out next week. She's too powerful, you're giving her a free ride!" Well, I wasn't thinking this, I was yelling it! Sheila is freaking out, thinking her plan is going to blow up in her face, but she's being cool about it, keeping her head and the whole thing. Shannon thinks she's a goner.
So the vote comes up and only Adam and Ryan can vote, unless it comes to a tie, then Sheila can break the tie. Ryan votes to kick Natalie out and Adam votes to keep her in. Sheila has to break the tie and votes Natalie out. I yell in victory!!! Now, the game is about to really get interesting. I'm going to call Adam and Sheila as final two. Adam wins it all. I think Shannon will be kicked out next week because she's now a serious contender for the $500,000. Sheila is conniving enough to make it work for her. The only way Ryan would be able to pull it off is to blindside Adam and stab him in his back, which I don't think he'd be willing to do because it would leave Sheila or Shannon against him and he has no chance with either of them.
Geeze…I just realized how pathetic I really am! Does this even count as a journal entry? I don't think Anne Frank or any other profound journalist would've written about this if they were alive today. Sheesh.
April 17th, 2008
Today is a somber day. First, I wake up to the news that the U.S. is ranked number five amongst countries who execute. FIVE. That's just nuts. We're up there with China and the Middle East. USA! USA! USA! Then at rec someone yells that the Supreme Court has ruled against lethal injection being unconstitutional. One of the guards snickered and said, "Crank it up." I turned around and called him an asshole. But he's right, there are over 70 inmates on death row here who have exhausted their appeals. It's about to be a slaughterhouse in here. Hell, if the lethal injection is humane we might as well bring back the guillotine. What d'ya say?
When I went back to my cell I went to AM radio to piece together the news and what exactly the Supreme Court ruled, and I pieced it all together. It's a mixed bag: yes, executions will now resume, and they ruled against the Kentucky applicants who filed the suit on the grounds that they had no justifiable argument to challenge lethal injection. It was not a blanket ruling, so if there's a state who has a legitimate claim that during the administering of the lethal injection something has gone wrong, THEN they can sue the state and take it back to the Supreme Court. So, the fight is definitely not over. Basically, they want a better argument. It's promising, but still many more inmates will be killed before this happens. I figure Texas will have its first execution by May or June.
April 18th, 2008
A beautifully boring and peaceful day. It's been quiet all day long. I've just been listening to the radio and doing laundry.Nothing laborious. I'm loving this weather that we've had all week long: no humidity, no rain, not even a cloud in the sky. Currently I'm listening to air traffic control on my radio. I still think it's wild that I can actually pick this up.
April 20th, 2008
Man…talk about news to really wake your ass up. I'm left feeling very nervous/anxious about an upcoming email that was sent to me and I should have by the weekend. In all honesty I dread it but this could be a pivotal moment, a life changing moment. I know I'm being vague, but I will explain more when I receive this email. I need this no matter how emotional it might be. My response is everything.
April 21st, 2008
A hot, humid day. I've been thinking compulsively about the coming email. I really don't know what to do until then.
April 22nd, 2008
I don't believe it's ever on the cards to get more than four to six hours of sleep. Yeah, occasionally there's the rare day I might make it to seven or eight hours of sleep, but those times really are rare.
So, I'm out here in the dayroom at about 6:25 AM. I went to sleep at around 1:15am, thinking I'd be able to sleep in, but really I should know better than that. It's my fault. Really, I just have a very hard time sleeping before midnight and sleeping during the day. It's something I've been doing since I was about 14 years old, but I realize that being 30 years old now, it's not quite the same. The body definitely doesn't take it the same! Growing older is a mixed bag. I don't fear age, and as I recently wrote in one of my songs, "Youth has grown old." Youth is highly overrated. I think the few things youth had going for itself was 1) innocence; 2) naivety; 3) sexual exploration; 4) living for what the future might hold. The cliché is age brings wisdom and it's true, but age also brings with it a sense of living in the present, whereas in youth you can run from life and death. Age means you know your life is truly valuable and that death, well, she's finally catching up to you. So things you do have more weight and importance. How did I get there from sleep? I guess my point is that I'm starting to feel my age!
One thing I didn't mention in my journal yesterday, something that amused me (my mind has been on the looming email making its way) is that maintenance came to rip out this whole console in the pods control center. See, it's a very big counter with shelves, etc, and then you have the controls built into it. Mostly the console was good for some of the guards to hide behind and sleep, or engage in other dubious activities. Maintenance stripped it all out and just left the controls so now there's no place to sleep behind or hide. As I said, all very amusing.
Well, I think I've rambled on long enough. My mind is like a freight train this morning, but my body is not catching up!
April 26th, 2008
I'm kind of an emotional mess right now…..Well, I'm trying to keep myself from falling back into a depression… I did receive the email I was fretting about on Wednesday night, and it was from the widow of the officer killed in 2000 after our escape. It made me feel just awful inside and while I'll never truly understand the amount of pain her family has gone through over the years, I could only ask for forgiveness, even if I didn't pull a gun. I don't know what else to say other than I have always had remorse for that night, as it should've never happened and I don't say that because I've ended up on death row. Yes, being on death row has changed me, has opened my eyes to many things and had it not been for me coming here I probably would've never seen them or wouldn't have seen them for a long time to come, but still I've always been sincere in asking for forgiveness. And while I've never expected to be forgiven, I'll always ask to be forgiven.
I don't think some people realize why I have a journal and why I write as often as I can or why I write memoirs and other things. It's not for attention. I don't know anyone who bares their soul for the whole world to see, and is really screaming "look at me?" No, I've never wanted that. It's never been about ego or anything of that nature. It's simply an exercise in self discovery, and a suggestion by friend(s) to help me get through a severe depression I was going through at the time. It's now become more than that and I've had the unique chance to use my abilities to shine a light not only on what death row is like, but the people who are on death row. Some will always think we are all animals, but it's just not true. And if, by sharing these experiences, I can keep others from making the same mistakes, or encourage parents to really listen when their own children or teenagers come to be in trouble, well I feel that I've accomplished something tremendous. Some people may not "buy it", but I'm not trying to sell anything anyway, so it doesn't matter. It would be very difficult for me to carry on with some façade for several years now. Wouldn't I slip? Wouldn't I get caught in some lie? Wouldn't someone call me out and say, "prove it!" I don't know, but I do know that those who truly know me, know that I'm sincere. We all stumble from time to time and I'm far from perfect, but I do know that my heart and my intentions are in the right place. I guess that's all that matters.
April 27th, 2008
Well, today I feel a little better. Last night I listened to "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" and it was pretty good. I'd have liked to see the special effects though. A friend recently asked how we were able to listen to TV through our radios, and why we had a coax antenna system. Well, I can't get into all of the technical things as to why we can listen, but I think that the whole unit was originally set up for cable and because we're out in the sticks they use some sort of system to pick up clear FM signals, because otherwise you wouldn't be able to listen to much radio out here. We pick up a Houston signal. Well, as the FM antenna is tied into the TV or UHF and VHF antenna we also can pick up TV. It's all on the same system. I don't know how this will effect us when everything goes digital. I'm assuming that so long as TDC upgrades their system, the FM will still be on the same coax and we'll still be able to get it. No one knows for sure. Just a bunch of speculation.
In just a little bit my radio program starts up and there's rumors going around that some big changes are coming to the radio station that does our show. I hope it doesn't affect the show itself. I think other than a few things, it runs pretty well and serves an awesome purpose. Yeah, it has plenty of kinks, but it's great to hear messages. I always get a little sad when I hear parents call in and the love they have for their children - guys in prison. True, unconditional love. I've never really experienced it, but I know that it's an awesome thing. It makes me miss my parents so much. I think on Mother's Day I'm going to write something to my mom. We weren't as close as my dad and I, but she did have my same sense of humor and we liked the same movies, and to read. I used to love whenever I'd come back home from Kentucky and one of the first places we went to was the book store...She was always good to go clothes shopping with as well. I remember one time dad was trying to get me to try on these really tight pants, Wesley called them 'nut huggers' and I begged mom please let me get different ones. Dad said, no, these fit fine, but I wanted baggy pants! Mom made my case and dad caved in.
Not much else is happening around here. It's a nice day outside. I don't have much of a view, but the sky looks nice enough.