March 2008 - Randy Halprin

Randy Halprin
 "We tend to see a person in the moment, not as the journey they travelled to get here."  Kat Lehmann

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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.


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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.


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