I have had every good intention of keeping up with this journal...and this coming week, I'm going to make every effort to do something - even if it's just a paragraph a day.
Things have been so chaotic that I find it difficult to seriously focus on anything outside of what I deem the utmost importance. Let me give an example...On Friday, I went outside at 8.30am; our alloted time for recreation is two hours per day, Monday through to Friday, with two days outside, and three days inside. Often, this is left to the officer's discretion on extra outside days. Anyway, I didn't come back inside until 3pm!!! Now, I can understand running a little over time, and we all appreciate any extra time we get outside of the cell, but when guards do absolutely NO work, NO showers, and generally do NOTHING at all, and I get stuck outside for hours and hours??? Isn't that ridiculous? It can also take officers until 1am to finish showers because first shift couldn't do the work they are expected to have done, and on top of all that, the State has stopped allowing extra officers to come in and work overtime, because they don't want to pay the extra...This has created even more of a problem! Sigh...All of that to say it's hard to focus on work when things are being run this way. Everything is topsy turvey! I will try though...Yoda wouldn't be happy with that statement, but I'm only human!
Anyway, I'd like to say "thanks" to the DJ on the radio station, KPFT 90.1 out of Houston (kpft.org online). His name is Lars, and he has an excellent music program on Thursday nights at 9pm, Texas time, called "Tennyson's Tape Deck". It's a lot of folk, alt country, American music, and the one hour he has just isn't enough...It's a really great show that's full of emotionally evocative and soulful music that's perfect for winding down after a stressful day. Well, he took a few minutes to mention my case, the law of parties, and my website, which meant more to me than he could ever imagine, and I really appreciated it. I was in complete shock and extremely touched...I'm asking anyone who likes that kind of music to support his show by donating online to keep it on the station. KPFT is a community station supported by listeners and not corporate interests, and the program director will either cancel a show or give it more time, or a better slot, based on the donations it receives. So, please support this program! And to Lars: Thank you so much!
Another note of importance for today: There's a guy on our section, who's been here for a few weeks now...His name is Syed Rabbani, and he's spent most of his time on death row, at the state mental facility. He's severely mentally ill, and really shouldn't be over here because he cannot properly take care of himself because he's so doped up. When they bring him out of his cell, he walks around in a daze, and can barely lift his feet off the ground. My neighbour and I have done our absolute best in trying to look out for him by sending him snacks and coffee, and we're not even sure if he has money on his inmate account. He should have some because at Christmas time, several organizations do send a few bucks as gifts, however, because he doesn't have his ID card, he cannot make commissary and we've talked to every guard we can - every ranking official - to see if we can get his ID card, but nothing is being done. He needs it not only for commissary - it's also a security issue...But no one seems to care.
If there's anyone out there who reads this and visits Polunsky Unit on a regular basis, will you please contact the Warden's office and ask them to get an ID for him? We're doing our best, but we need some outside pressure to get him his ID. Also, if there is any minister, or anyone who knows a minister who visits Polunsky, will they please call him out for a visit so he can get out of his cell and have a decent meal? It would be so good for him to get away from this place for a couple of hours...Sometimes, he sleeps through his meals because of the meds they have dosed him up on, and I don't need to say that the psychiatric department here is JOKE, but I will...It's a freaking JOKE!
Well, I'm doing as well as I can, anyway...Despite the chaos, the noise, and the seriousness of my situation, I can say with complete honesty that I'm relatively calm and at peace. It's just hard to focus, and I can be easily distracted. I really am going to make an effort to write more in the journal though, because I really should.
Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith!
January 15th, 2019
I really need to get better at keeping up with this journal! I'm trying to operate with my brain on several different things at once...I have various writing projects in progress, and I'm super focused on my memoir right now. I want to finish with it so I can start writing a more upbeat memoir about my childhood; it starts out on a sad note, but gets better, and it will be full of funny memories once I finish it. I've also been writing some new songs/poems over the last few months, so please check out my poetry section of the site where I add new poems/lyrics occasionally, and I've been working on a radio play as well. So, all of that and the natural stress that comes with my appeals situation and this environment, has left me with little time to focus on my journals...Anyway, I will be trying harder in the coming months, and do keep an eye on the memoirs section of the site - roughly 8 new chapters are on the way!
The chaos in this place is at an all time high! It feels a bit like "Lord of the Flies" right now - not amongst the inmates, but with the guards. There's some real "Game of Thrones" style power struggles, and we're caught in the middle of it all. We joke that it can't get any worse, but we know it could at any moment...We even pine for the days of the early '00s like it was the golden age! Back then we complained about how bad it was, and now we look back and we're like, "We had it freakin' made!" Bring those days back! Sheesh...
Anyway, there's a little good news to report - one of my friends back here, Blaine Milam, was facing execution today, and yesterday afternoon, the news spread like wild fire that he was given a stay of execution! I was so happy for him and his family, and my heart swelled with hope! His mother, bless her heart, has shown true unconditional love for Blaine, and supported him with unwavering love...I can only imagine the emotional toll this has taken on her. You can wish for your revenge, but please remember there are victims on both sides.
With courage, strength, hope and faith!
New Year's Day, 2019
I had been working on something completely different for the first day of the new year, but because of events that happened the week before Christmas - when I received news about my appeals - I've had to re-organize my thoughts of late. Despite the news, my focus remains the same: to LIVE and LOVE and PRAY for mercy...I suppose it has created even more drive and focus within me, and quite honestly, I'm eerily calm, although a little sad, and of course, disappointed. On the plus side, I don't feel panicked, and I'm not freaking out...My mind is firmly on the new year and working to make 2019 a year of love, kindness, compassion, and praying that mercy will be granted.
I have so much to be grateful for! I have the most amazing and good friends who have been by my side for years...whose friendship and support I cherish, and who have never made me feel anything other than loved, accepted, and part of their lives. And this past year, I have been lucky enough to find the love of my life whose creativity amazes me, and who gets along so well with my friends. This time last year, I talked to my dear friends about her, and how she and I had talked about the journey that life and love is. We imagined a house, standing in front of it, and not knowing what lay inside. We grabbed each others' hand, and stepped into the unknown, exploring every room inside...Every nook, every cranny, every closet. We knew there would be regular maintenance to take care of - a squeaky door, a broken window, a burst pipe - just as there are things you need to do to take care of and nurture a relationship. We all have to do that regular maintenance to keep things from becoming unfixable. No love is perfect...No life is perfect...But sometimes, you find the person who is perfect for you, and who helps you navigate a very imperfect world. With her love, and the love of my cherished friends, even with the news of my appeals, I still feel like I'm the luckiest guy in the world! Now more than ever, in this period of uncertainty, I'm so grateful to have the reassurance of my friends' love and support, and the love of a good woman who will be by my side no matter what.
For many years I have battled with the feeling that something was missing in my life...I have been in love with other people in the past, but nothing ever filled that empty feeling I struggled with, and I couldn't figure out what it was for a long time. I know and acknowledge that I have mishandled certain situations because of that feeling I had, and I am truly sorry for that. Ultimately though, I did discover what was missing...I knew immediately...I guess you could say that as soon as I read the words, "hot cocoa and marshmallows," (an inside joke!) I knew what was missing!
I'm a pretty simple dude; I don't need a lot in life to keep a smile on my face. I've often said that the guards in this place could take every single item I have except my radio, and I'd be okay with that - music, of course, being my passion. But I also have a strong will to live, and a desire to love and be loved...My friends know this, and they do everything they can to reassure me I am loved and a part of their lives...Knowing that feeds my drive and my focus! I am lucky to have the love of good friends, and I pray my life is spared so that I may continue to love and be loved..
So, you might ask, what do I want for 2019? If I survive this, how will I make the world a better place? You might ask, "Why should you be more deserving of life or another chance when there are hundreds of others in the same situation?" I definitely don't think I'm any more deserving than anyone else. Over the years I have learned that each person has their own unique set of circumstances. I can't pretend to know the heart of each and every man on death row; I don't know how they were raised, their financial/socio-economic conditions...I don't know how anything affected their choices in life, or if they ever had any real choices open to them, or whether they have suffered abuse of any kind...What I do know for sure is that there are some pretty awesome and good people back here who just messed up hugely. I am not better than they are, or any more deserving, but I know my life...I know my story, and I know my heart. Regardless of how anyone feels about my bad decisions, my initial offence, or the escape, I have tried my best to be a good person...To help people...To lift up and encourage others. There's been times I've given all I have to someone who wasn't so fortunate as myself - that doesn't cancel out any of my screw-ups in any way, and that isn't why I would do any act of kindness anyway...But I do try and live by example, and in the hope that simple and random acts of kindness can spread positivity and light in this place.
As for my goals...What would I do with my life? For years, I've talked about the things I'd like to achieve...I want to help prisoners who are illiterate, and those who need help to strengthen their own literacy skills. If I ended up in an AD-SEG situation, I would like to have books donated, as well as other educational resources that would help those re-entering society. I would like to get a radio donation program going, so no inmate in Texas is without a radio, and with my writings, I want to encourage families to listen to their troubled kids/teens when things are going wrong for them. My purpose in life would be to encourage, and to uplift...To encourage people to have belief in their own self worth, and to transfer that into a practical way of living once they're released. These are the things I will do with my life...It's my promise to the universe, G-d, and the amazingly supportive friends who love and believe in me, and who see me as part of their own families, and who have been by my side for years.
So, I'm hoping and praying, and trusting that a miracle will happen in 2019. I'm not ready to call it quits! And I sure as hell don't want to be killed for something I didn't do! I'm just praying for mercy...I'm still here...I'm still alive, breathing, and in the fight! I wish the death penalty would just end; it can be tiring to fight, emotionally. I wish people could see that killing accomplishes nothing - it doesn't prevent other murders from happening, and it doesn't do anything to reduce crime levels. A revenge-based system of justice in our society does nothing but cause more suffering. I would love to see it end, but in the meantime, I still fight...I will fight...I will live...
Here's to hoping and believing that 2019 will be a year of miracles - a year that sees the world wake up and we stop hating one another, a year of peace and love. Thank you to all of you who support and believe in me, and for putting that support into action. And thank you, my love...We're still in this! In it to win it, and we make an awesome team. I can never thank my personal long time friends enough...Thank you all so much for your friendship - I need you more than ever. I know you all have it in your hearts to make 2019 a year of hope...A year of love...A year of mercy and miracles.