May 2015 - Randy Halprin

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

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May 13th, 2015

I'm sitting here at 8:34am on a grey Wednesday morning, trying to put together my thoughts after a night of tossing and turning. I can be a bit neurotic about things and when a certain event happens, I can dwell on it and over analyze it. I can let it bother me.

I haven't been in a cell in which I can SEE someone being taken away to their execution in a long time. I hadn't forgotten what that experience is has always been inside of me, but to watch - to see a group of guards putting a scared and shackled person into the back of a white van...Knowing they are driving to a certain death. If it didn't bother me, I wouldn't be human.

I felt bad. Really bad. We don't become indifferent to executions back here, but in a way we do get desensitized to the overall experience. You know there is an execution, but after seeing so many people leaving and never coming back, it is easier to just push it into the back of your mind and leave it there. And so, that morning I went about my day as I usually do. I was scheduled to go outside and I was excited to play basket ball. I was going to play one of the - if not the best ball player on death row. Even if I couldn't beat him, I was psyched that the dude was going to give me a chance. And we battled it out. I mean, really went after it. I hung with him (to his amazement) and even though I had my ass handed to me a whopping 52 games to 3...the run and the pace was awesome. It was a battle royale. I came back into my cell high off of the adrenaline and endorphins.

Again, I knew there was an execution but hadn't given it much thought and so when someone yelled "Here comes the van! Look out the window..." Those good feelings came crashing down. I climbed on the back of the bunk bed and looked out the window. The van backed up to a gate where a bunch of guards and important people were standing and I watched as the guy climbed in...I wondered what he was thinking. Was he at peace? Was he frightened? Did he have family waiting on him?

I felt like the van was crossing some eternal threshold, as if the road lead to a portal into another life. There is a great Graphic Novel series called Locke & Key, by Joe Hill; the story centers around a series of doors and keys that open into a world of very strange things. One of the keys opens the 'deathdoor'. When you cross the door threshold your body falls over dead and your spirit is ejected. I kind of felt like the van was doing the same thing...Passing through an invisible gateway to another life. But my main thoughts for the rest of the day was focused on how the guy felt and what his last moments were.

It bothered me. It still bothers me and it is difficult right now to explain in words the various emotions I'm feeling myself. I could get into a whole slew of nonsense about what does lie beyond that death door; if there is anything or not. I could go on about what our purpose in life is and if there's any importance in being a conscious, sentient animal on this planet, and the why of self awareness...I don't know...but the most basic way I can think of explaining anything is just all sucks.


May 11th, 2015

There is an absolutely ridiculous rule here in prison: we are not allowed to share. Yes, your billions of brain cells just interpreted that information correctly. The technical term for it is called "Traffic and Trading". The rule was designed to slow down and prevent guys from extorting one another or trying to move drugs or other contraband around in General Population, and the rule makes sense...By stopping guys from sharing and saying it is against the rules, you might be able to prevent extortion and contraband from getting moved around...but inmates are creative, and they just found other ways to do it. It never stopped or slowed anything down.

Now, with a rule such as that you would think that some common sense would be applied in the enforcement of that rule. Especially in a segregated enviroment like the one death row is. I mean, we have no physical contact with anyone so it isn't likely that some dude can tell another dude through the door of his cell "Hey, gimme all yo' commissary or I'm gonna butt rape you." Because, dude you can't get to my butt so na na na na na...Unless you have a rope for a penis and then well, you're one bad mofo. We are locked in our cells for 22-23 hours out of the day. The only things we can do is read, write, listen to the radio and eat. That is it.  Now, maybe for some that is too much, but I'm sure if you ask the guards if they'd rather have inmates do that or harass them all day they'd prefer the former. It's just common sense. However...(you knew this was coming, didn't you?) there are some that have ZERO common sense. In their fanatic madness to punish a person back here or to follow every single arbitrary rule to the 't'. common sense gets shit out like a rabid rabbit running through a briar patch. There are some of us who are fortunate. We get books, magazines, commissary. And the majority of those people do share. It makes little sense to have books or comics, read it a couple of times and then throw it away...Being a lover of all things art and literature, that is just not going to happen with me.  I'd rather take the risk of breaking THAT rule by giving it to others who I know will enjoy it as well.

Tuesday morning started off as any morning does. Guys going to first round of recreation and all that. But there was one officer who was on the war path and began to make guys' mornings very difficult. Barking out orders like a like a drill sergeant on crack. The best thing to do is just stay out of her way, go about your day as you normally would and don't let it get under your skin. I had no intention of getting involved with her at all.

I'm just sitting there listening to her rant and rave as I listen to the morning news, drinking a bottle of water when I hear a loud THUMP! Curious, I go to my door and look at the day room. On the outside of the bars I see a large white envelope and I wonder "Hmmm...Is that my comics?" When out of nowhere this demon hell spawn darts across the run way and snatches up the white bundle. I kind of laugh like, 'what's her  deal?' and walk away from.the door. It doesn't really concern me at all...And then, it does.

"Dude! Randy! Chick just took all of your comics!"
"We were passing them to someone else and she ran over there and snatched them up!"

Now, I was upset at that point. Materially, it isn't the end of the world. Most everyone had seen them, and I had read them. They were just comics. It was the pettiness of it that upset me and when I talked to her - civilly I should add - her attitude just got under my skin. All of us spent the day trying to have them returned, at the very least, given back to me. The other two guards were sympathetic about what happened and even said if she wasn't working they would return them, but they couldn't cross her or go behind her back. Understandable. I just chalked them up as a loss. So, imagine my surprise when a 2nd shift officer returned them to me. Apparently, one of my good friends back here had haggled the night officers into returning them as they were just sitting on a trash can.

My point is, what harm did any of that cause? Why wouldn't you want people to share when it promotes not only good will amongst one another, but a civility to the environment we live in? All of that madness over essentially tree pulp.


May 4th, 2015

Of all of the days of the week here, Sundays are the most boring. Yesterday was particulary boring and I've been in such a mental funk over the past month...more in part due to concerns over my legal affairs than anything else, but it seems that everything I've done or tried to do was lackluster. Though, I have been taking my frustrations out on the basketball court and whooping some major ass! More on that in a minute...Even with all of the legal developments in the world of the death penalty good and bad, I just feel...blah. I hate having this air of uncertainty hang over my head. I hate being stuck in limbo and I hate having no control or direction in my life. Imagine being stuck in a conrete box and told, "Just sit there until we figure out what we're going to do with you. You have no say in the matter. Just sit. And wait. Maybe you'll die. Maybe you won't." I'm not a control freak, and I'm definitely not like all alpha male gorilla...I'm more of a thinker, but I don't like the fact that I have ZERO control over my life. I get to decide when I want to masturbate and that is about it. And sometimes that is more up to factors I have no control over, 'cause who wants to be walked up on when they're taking care of their li'l ol li'l ol...can we say...awwwwwkward!?!

Seriously...jokes aside...I can be a very neurotic person and one of my biggest flaws is worrying about things I have no control over. I worry even when I KNOW that there's nothing that can be done...which, admittedly sometimes leads to poor choices and impulsive behaviour because I want to know that I at least tried something to make a difference in the circumstances. The road to hell is paved with good intentions...So, being in this legal dilema is making me feel a bit bonkers. And depressed.

I did recieve a letter from my attorney today and it has made me feel a bit better. We'll see what develops and whether it goes in a positive direction or a bad one. I'm going to be cautiously optimistic and hope for the best. I did have something really awesome happen not too long ago. I heard directly from one of my younger brothers, who I've not heard from in 18 years. I was in brief contact with him through my ex-wife back in 2011 or so but we hadn't talked or communicated directly. So, imagine my surprise when I recieve a letter with his name on it. I was in tears...the fact that he said he has never stopped loving me, that he remembers so much and that I was a good brother. He mentioned things in the past seeming 'dream like' in that he questions the memories but I can assure him he remembers them correctly.

There was nothing I loved more in the world than coming back home from Kentucky on a school break and being tackled by my two little brothers. They would attatch themselves like sucker fish to each leg and I would walk all the way to the living room stiff legged until they climbed off. Jimmy would crawl into my bed late at night and I never kicked him out or told him he wasn't welcome. Even when he would wet he bed, I'd just  tell him to jump in the shower and I would change the sheets. It was never that big of a deal for me. I never freaked out over it. I was just happy to have the time I did with them.

Jimmy and Kevin were adopted from Korea and it is hard for people to understand the love I have for both of them and the regret I have...the deep guilt I carry for missing most of their lives. "But they weren't your blood brothers" they'll say and I'm like, yeah so? I changed their diapers. Trucked baby formula and an embarassingly huge bright blue baby bag - AS A TEEN - around Disney World and other places filled with hot young chicks. I babysat them when my parents went out, we made cookies and lemonade together. I cooked eggs for them.  I chased them all around the house when they interupted calls with girlfriends (Kevin used to jump on another phone somewhere in the house and yell 'Randy has polka dot under wear! Giggle and run off'. They never were not my brothers. There was something deeper, more spiritual than blood. I loved - still love them with all of me. It has never changed. How could it? So, when you recieve a letter from a brother who says he's never stopped loving you and calls you 'big brother' and has nothing but good memories of you...I feel like I did SOMETHING in my life right. I just hope this leads itself to a greater reconciliation with my family as a whole. I miss them all so much.

I  envy guys back here who still have their families in their life. I get pissed off at guys I hear out at visit talking shit to their families, like, dude do you not realize what you have? They drove such and such miles to see your sorry ass and you still treat them like dirt?  I would give up anything to have that...Guys ask each other back here, in the hypothetical, if we were to recieve an execution date and all of a sudden friends and family tried to jump back into our lives at the last minute, knowing we're about to die, would we let them? To that I say, HELL YES!  Absolutely. I don't care about the lost years. I don't care about the abandonment. I see it like this: Here is an oppurtunity to make things right and have - even a momentary - moment at being reunited with my family. To let them know how much I loved them - even through all of my fuck ups. To let them know I was sorry. Of course I would tell them how hurt I felt by their abandonment, but I forgave them. I would love that oppurtunity. That is what is so awesome about the power and grace of does take burdens off of your heart.

I've started the basketball season off pretty well. I'm rolling 6 and 1 right now. I went outside to play last Friday and put the smack down 35 games to 5. The week prior to that I tried my hand at one of the best players back here and he gave me a thorough butt whooping, so I'm not quite ready for prime time, but I'm getting there. I told the dude who beat me that the next time I was around him I wanted a rematch, so we'll see what happens. I wish I wasn't stuck in the cell today so I could try to get outside. It looks freakin' fantastic out there and I would like to enjoy the weather before we're in the 100's that is the sultry Texas heat.


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