It's my birthday today...43 years old. I feel blessed and fortunate to have another year of life and hopefully, G-d willing, many more. We're not guaranteed a single second in this life and to highlight that exact point, we've learned today via the prison radio station, that two men in General Population passed away yesterday, of heart attacks.
My day has been pretty nice...I've received many birthday greetings and some snacks as gifts. My neighbor made some really good tacos for me and some guys sent me the most ridiculous picture of a naked man wearing nothing but a huge sombrero on his head, and a tiny one covering his, um, business, as he's riding a donkey. In big bold letters it says,
And they all signed it with birthday wishes. I crack up every time I see it, and I'm going to send it to my girlfriend so that she can keep it and have something to laugh at (ha ha).
Football season is getting started today, so a lot of guys are excited about that and it's been a bit rowdy. I'm actually happy that football season is here because it gives these men (who are restless) something to focus their attention on. With the administration ending the Covid phone calls we were allowed to have every few weeks, and not knowing exactly when visitation will resume, some guys were getting frustrated with the situation...This will hopefully keep their minds preoccupied.
It's been a relatively peaceful weekend, all things considered. On Friday I had a legal phone call with my attorneys and they wished me a 'happy birthday' and passed on a birthday message from my girlfriend. I received some promising news about the status of my legal proceedings so I move forward with a bit of optimism. I'm grateful for the people representing me and whilst I do have my bouts of anxiety and worry, I also have a great deal of optimism.
It was nice to have the walk outside to and from the visitation area where the legal calls are made. I could smell the air, look at the sky and the clouds...I heard the birds singing and chirping, and after being kept locked up in a cell all day long, it always amazes me how vivid everything seems! Stepping outside on the walkway you notice so many things, and it's mind-blowing. Before being on death row I never really noticed many of these things, but if you pay attention and look, you can see it.
Yesterday I spent the day relaxing, reading a bit, and listening to the prison radio station. I heard an album by the Deftones, the 'Deftones', which was really good. Then later I listened to a movie called, 'The Mountains Between Us', starring Kate Winslet and Idris Elba. It was better than I expected. The ending was a bit of a downer, but I like it when movies aren't perfectly tied up and all neat and pretty. I like them better when they reflect human emotions and sometimes heartache that can't be explained away and made better. The DJ of the station said he was going to do a 'Rambo' movie marathon today for the guys who don't listen to football. He planned on airing all four movies which is cool. I like the first one a lot, but the rest are a little cheesy.
I want to thank everyone for the the birthday greetings, and to thank my Rabbi, as well as my Taffy, for giving me a ton of love this weekend. It means a lot to me and makes the day even more special. I'm a lucky guy to have her and I love her completely.
Here's to hoping the coming week is blessed as we enter into the Jewish high holiday season!
Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.
September 10th, 2020
Insanity abounds...To quote Whoopie Goldberg,
"I half expect to see Godzilla come out of the East River."
Can this world get any crazier???
So, I woke this morning at 6am because someone was calling out my name, needing some advice. I crawled out of bed and started my day, noticing that the crew we had were made up of brand spanking new guards...Despite their limited training, they were tasked with doing showers and setting up rec, and didn't seem to know how to do it which created quite a spectacle. At the same time, a huge cleaning crew came in with 20ft long dusters, scrubbers, blasters, bleach, disinfectant etc, and who knows what else, and began scrubbing the pod. Whenever this happens it means someone very important is expected to show up and inspect the place.
On top of all that, my toilet is still out of commission and I've been reluctant to press the issue because I'm not trying to get moved out of the cell. I like where I am and I have good neighbors. So, I'm pouring bowls of water into the toilet to 'flush' it, and it's doing the job for now. It takes a lot of time, but it kind of works for the moment. I've talked to all manner of people back here and the story is they're out of the parts they need to fix ANY toilet on the unit. Whoever is in charge of ordering parts and supplies should be fired.
When I worked in maintenance in General Population it was my job as a warehouse clerk to have a proper inventory of all parts, from every little screw to copper pipes...The top priority items were always plumbing. From gaskets, seals, o-rings, and springs (back then they didn't have what's called a 'flush kit', which is an entire piece that snaps in place to flush the toilet) if the plumber asked us for a part, it was expected that they'd receive that part there and then. Plumbing/water works is the most important thing on this unit. It boggles my mind that they have zero flush kits.
We're having a nice cool front right now. It's grey and looks like a fall day outside of my window. It won't be long before the two trees I can see standing above a building will shed their leaves.
Geeze...two months until the holiday seasons begins! Time flies...I mean, it's been almost a year since I received my stay of execution...
Otherwise, I'm getting through the day...Just waiting on Godzilla!
Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.
September 8th, 2020
It feels like a Monday because of the holiday weekend, but I'm glad it's Tuesday because I'm already ready for this week to be over. Last night turned into a nightmare for me...I've got a rogue toilet that won't stop flushing! I was listening to the final movie of the night, Harley Quinn, when I went to use the restroom. I flushed the toilet and it wouldn't stop flushing...My initial thought was,
"Why does this always happen to meeeeeee?"
The exact same thing happened to me in another cell last year.
I called and called the guards until one finally answered me and I had to yell over the noise from the toilet because they are extremely loud, and powerful enough to pull down a Wooly Mammoth's turd! I asked that if they couldn't fix it to shut my water off, and they said they'd call the plumber. No plumber was ever called...In fact, when I asked a sergeant at breakfast time, he said he didn't even know about the problem. I wasn't too happy about that but I went back to sleep and decided I'd try to get the day time crew to take care of it.
12 hours later and my toilet is still out...
I've talked to a lieutenant and a sergeant, and they're telling me that there are no parts available and they don't have a day time plumber which is complete and utter horse crap. So, I know I'll be going round and round with them for a few days until I'm at my wits end and have to sound like a mad man to get it fixed. I'm going to have to have them take me to the day room each time I need to use the restroom. They'll get tired of that, and I'll have to use it front of 14 men...Small price to pay to get it fixed though.
I didn't get much sleep last night and they started running A-Section to rec at 6am. My friend, Irving, was there so I got out of bed to wish him 'Happy Birthday', and as a gift I gave him my complete collection of Deadly Class novels - the best graphic novel series ever! He likes the series a lot, and whilst the books had sentimental value to me, I know he liked them just as much and doesn't have the support to get them himself...I loved that I could give them to him. It's the least I could give to him and I know he'll take good care of them and enjoy them.
The property officer came by today and I donated some hygiene items to the Chaplain's Indigent program for men in General Poplulation who cannot purchase these items themselves. I think I'll donate each time we go to store now, and they're always talking about the program and how it helps guys in prison, on the Unit's radio station. It's the least I can do to share what I have and believe me, I know what it was like having to beg for a tube of colgate, or to have to hustle to get something I really needed when I was in General Population.
Giving to the program today got my brain turning...It's always been one of my long term goals to have outside organisations donate radios to those who can't afford to buy them. I was thinking now that the Chaplaincy has a donation program, I'm going to suggest that those of us who can, donate $20 or whatver it costs for a radio. If just a few hundred guys could do that it would cover a lot of those who are indigent and can't buy a radio. I think that with the Unit radio station this would be even more feasible to give access to men who can't listen to the church services or the movies, or music. I think it would be a fantastic opportunity to reach a lot of guys in Ad-Seg.
So, we'll see what we can do...When these movies come on at night it goes quiet back here, and when good music is on, guys are all in a better mood. Earlier they played a block of Tupac and so many guys were rapping along and saying,
"Oh man...that shot me back to when I was free!"
These are good things and a good way to rehabilitate and educate people.
It's getting grey outside and it looks like a storm might be moving in. We're supposed to have a cool front move through tomorrow so this might be the first sign of a real fall! I can't wait...
Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.
September 7th, 2020
As I write this it's Labor Day...It's been a long and boring weeend and I've been trying to keep my head above the water. Sometimes I feel an overwhelming sadness, and other times I feel better and full of pep. I really need to get more recreation and fresh air. We had rec on Friday and they did it for C/D section yesterday, but today there's been none. We average about one day out of the cell per two weeks now, and that just isn't right, especially since I have personally seen no sign of a staff shortage in the past two weeks - we've had 3 officers working the pod every single day.
Over the weekend they started doing hair cuts again, which is a sign that things are opening back up on the prison, and yet we cannot get rec. Oh well...
So, it's Labor Day and I overheard a funny conversation this morning: Two guys were arguing over what 'Labor Day' was really about. One guy passionately argued that it was a day to celebrate women giving birth. Get it? 'Labor'Day...The other guy said it was a day to honor America's workers and the guy that thought it was about women said,
"Man, that don't even make sense! Why would the government honor workers? They ain't soldiers. It ain't like they're out there dying or anything."
They went round and round with their arguments until the guy who was arguing for child bearing said,
"I'll bet you ten dollars in commissary that it's about women in labor."
I felt like trying to prevent a train wreck and stop the bet, but you know, sometimes people have to learn the hard way. It was quite funny.
Our holiday meal was pretty good. We had baked chicken, beans, green beans, potato salad and some weird fruit cocktail doughy thing...It looked weird, but it tasted pretty good.
I really don't have anything more to talk about for today...
Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.
September 3rd, 2020
I'm filled with a lot of anxiety and heartache today, but hopefully it'll sort itself out...
Anyways, it's a strange day as it is. They did some moves earlier which surprised everyone. They swapped some guys out from C-Pod and B-Pod, and I guess this is a sign of things returning to a bit of normalcy. I've been in this cell for the longest I've ever been and I assumed (with all the moves I've had in the past) that I would have been moved by now. But who knows? Typically, before the pandemic, they moved everyone on a 6 month rotation...I was moved about every 2 months, sometimes a little longer, but for the past year and half I averaged about every 2 months. If they're moving everyone around it wouldn't be out of the question to put us on lockdown and do a shakedown as it's been a while.
There was no recreation today which sucks. It would've been nice to get outside and have some fresh air because the heatwave we're having seems to be ending, and we're expecting some much cooler and fall-like weather for next week - I'm really looking forward to it!