October 2007 - 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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October 30th, 2007

Man, today was really nice. I went outside and was able to play some basketball and actually won (barely). I took the tie at 11 games to 10. We had three games that went overtime, with one of those games going all the way to 25. We were playing a little differently today. You had to win by two so that made us work a little harder to win. Most people play first to get to ten points. It was quite refreshing and hopefully this will give me enough kick to stop being so lazy.

I changed my diet today, also. I decided to get taken off of the vegetarian tray. I am just so sick and tired of beans and peanut butter and jelly. Now, don't misread me. I'm still a vegetarian. The regular trays have far more food and I plan on eating around the meat. It's the only way I'm going to be able to eat healthily because the trays I've been getting are becoming progressively worse. Beans and bread. That was it. I just wish I had better options, but in this place I don't. Maybe things will change in  time.  

Later on this evening I plan on listening to "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown." It's a tradition I've been trying to keep. A way of staying in touch with the kid I once was. Whatever happened to that awesome Garfield Halloween special that used to always come on? The one where Garfield and Odie run into the pirate ghosts. My favorite line in that was Garfield saying, "Candy candy candy candy candy!!" I used to run around our house and drive mom and dad nuts with that. I can still remember my very first Halloween. It was strange. I had been with my adoptive parents for a few months. Before we went out trick or treating we ate something that had macaroni in it and I remember that Stevie Wonder's "I just called to say I love you" song was on. Then I remember going to the living room to get ready and my parents had the Disney channel on and they were playing the scary devil scene from the movie "Fantasia." I can't remember much else, but every time I hear that Stevie Wonder song I'm always taken back to that very memory.


October 29th, 2007

It's a little after nine at night. I just finished listening to the TV show "Heroes." Tonight's episode was pretty good. It had been dragging the last two episodes, but it's getting some feet now.  

Today has been pretty boring. I was supposed to go to recreation at six this morning and had gone to sleep early last night. I woke up right at six and then a crew of guards showed up to do a surprise cell search on another section, and they had to put the other inmates in the day rooms so I was pushed back until after eight in the  morning, which was fine by me. I just went back to sleep until eight. I got up and went to recreation and I had planned on exercising until someone gave me a cherry pie snack and that went out the window. I ate the cherry pie snack in semi bliss and walked my fat ass around in circles in a daze of cherry filling and sweet sugar dusted crust.  

The rest of the day I pretty much lounged around and did nothing. A short while ago I was told by someone that they spent six hours reading my journals. At first I was surprised. It made me feel weird for a second, but I was told that some of it made them laugh so I felt a little bit better. I don't know, I hardly ever write this with an audience in mind. Most of the time I'm just rambling on to myself and so when someone tells me they read what I wrote…it's awkward.

Anyway, it got me thinking about the guards and I think sometimes I'm too critical of them. I think it has to do with having no control over your own life so it's natural to have a bit of resistance to them. True, there are some real jerks (same can be said of the inmates, too), but you know, there are genuinely nice people who work back here and are just doing their job. I can say that a good majority do treat us like humans and so long as no one's trying to hurt anyone or put their job at risk, we're really not yelled and barked at that much. I get frustrated with the lazy ones because I want to get out of this cell and do much of what they don't want to do myself. I don't know if this makes sense or not, but I get frustrated if I can't get my shower because a guard is just sitting around and knows it irritates us to wait…I get more irritated because I wish I could just walk to the shower myself. Truth be told, as far as actual TDCJ ad-seg policies are concerned, there are things I do every day that could warrant being written up, but I don't get a discipline case; like when you don't shave for two days, or I leave my cell without picking up everything off of my floor or off of my desk. I've never had a guard get onto me about that. I know when I was in general population the rules were very strict. My point is there are some nice people who work back here. It sucks being an inmate, though, 'cause you'll never be an equal (at least in the eyes of the system).

I think there could be some serious changes to make life better for both the inmates and the guards, and this building could use some serious work done on it. The irony in all of that is we're all locked in our cells having to deal with the conditions when if you allowed us to get out of our cells and clean and keep this place up, more than ¾ of the guys would gladly volunteer to do it. Without complaint. So goes life on death row…I have no idea how I went to rambling about all of this. Sorry!

I just started reading a horror novel called "Night Life" and here in a bit I'm going to listen to "Seinfeld" and "Family Guy." Ever since the antenna got zapped and then fixed, I've been listening to the station that plays them more often. I burnt out on Jay Leno. That guy lost his funny a long time ago. Though, I'll always be loyal to Conan O'Brien. Geeze, I just wasted your time with a bunch of nonsense. So sorry again.


October 28th, 2007

Sunday morning. Man, it got cold last night! I stayed up until 1:30 A.M. for no particular reason, and then crashed out. When I got up I was freezing. I had to block my vents up, because the air coming through was like an artic blast. I should've exercised, but I don't feel like taking a cold wash after that so I'm going to hold off until I can get in the hot shower.

Nothing to report about today.  Just going to listen to KDOL and relax.


October 27th, 2007

A beautiful Saturday afternoon. It's a little cold, but I'm loving this fall weather. I really am. I just finished listening to KDOL broadcast the Anti Death Penalty March that was held in Houston today. They had a few people attending it and  they were calling into KDOL and giving updates and such about the march. One woman, who is a death row guy's mother, was front and center in the action and close to the speakers so she held up her phone and we heard several speeches. They were really inspiring. One speaker who has a show on KPFT was talking about how one of the only ways to really get the policy makers attention  is by hitting them in their pocket, which is something I've always believed. She suggested not paying taxes for something she doesn't believe in or support. Now…I'm  not going to say for anyone to do that, but I do agree with it. I also think that countries we do business with who do not have capital punishment should refuse to do business with the U.S. until it's  abolished. You've gotta hit them in their pocket. It was really good to  be able to hear and I'm very thankful of KDOL for that.

Now it's later in the evening and I've been listening to various TV stations to see if they would say anything about the success or turn out of the  march…Nothing. Not one single second was talked about. Apparently there was an immigration march and also a gay pride march today. I think that was bad timing for the anti dp march. But it goes to show that there is still a battle to be fought and it shows that Houston doesn't give a damn about this issue. Now I'm frustrated!


October 26th, 2007

I'm just getting settled into my new cell. I'm on B-pod and right underneath the haunted cell I lived in just a few weeks ago. I hope the ghost doesn't decide to mess with me down here. In a way I was glad to get moved even if I don't really care too much for this pod. It's kind of decrepit. The cell is okay, though, there's air seeping in from everywhere. It's quite chilly. Even the bottom vent, which is supposed to suck air in, is blowing air out. I'm living in a refrigerator. Today was very nice, though. I ended up skipping recreation. Don't ask me why, 'cause I really don't know myself. When I turned it down I thought, why did I just do that?  I think I'm going a little crazy. On top of that, the more I think about returning to Dallas County for my new hearing, the more I dread it. I was thinking it would be just my luck to be stuck there over the holidays. That place put some genuine fear in me. I can't even begin to describe what they did to us emotionally, psychologically. Two and a half years of hell and isolation. I lost forty freakin' pounds in that place. When I came to Death Row, I was so skinny that people thought I was sick. One time I wrote our judge to complain and my trial attorney told me not to do that again, because it looked like I was whining, and in light of the bigger picture, was bad for me. I thought to myself, I'm whining because I can't get health care? I'm whining because they won't let me leave my cell for recreation? I'm whining 'cause the guards are only giving me half of a food tray to eat? Ugh. I hated that place. If it weren't for a few true friends, I probably would've lost my mind. So… I dread going back.

It's getting late now and I have to get up early for recreation.


October 25th, 2007

Once again, I thought I would be moved, but it didn't happen. Tonight has to be the night. It's been a slow day. I did hear that they're shipping a bunch of AD-SEG (administrative segregation) inmates over here to the death row building because they shut down AD-SEG on the Beto 1 Unit in Tennessee Colony, due to the serious staff shortage. They cleared out two death row sections on F-Pod and moved those guys to empty cells on other pods. I didn't know that the staff shortage was that bad, but then again who wants to work in this hell hole and get paid what they get paid? The bad part of it is that to fill the shortage they'll just hire anyone and they'll be pretty bad guards. This is how abuse and corruption sets in. Guess they'd rather deal with that that paying them more.


October 24th, 2007

Another beautiful  day. I'm about to go to recreation and then I have to get ready in case I get moved. There's not a lot to write about today, as it's pretty average. Though, I'm sick and tired of this vegetarian tray I get. I mean, sick and tired! For the past two days I've had the same exact meal: black eyed peas, collard greens, carrots and three slices of bread. Nothing else. That's it. So what do I end up doing? Eating a bag of chips to counter that and screw up my body. I'm just so tired of this. There's no healthy alternative. Nothing this place sells or feeds us is healthy. It's all starch, fat, bread and sugar. I'm sick of it. What's so wild about it is that there's a growing trend of obesity and diabetes in prison, and TDCJ can't cover the growing medical expenses of guys who are locked up for life, yet they are obligated to care for these people. Instead of offering healthy alternatives, it just continues to get worse. Craziness. I'm living in crazy town.

I just had to vent. Ha-ha.


October 23rd, 2007

Man, today is just gorgeous. I went outside and it felt like an early spring. There was a nice breeze and it wasn't too cold. Just right. When I was out I ended up talking to a new guy who just arrived on death row last night. Everyone on this section gave him food, snacks, writing supplies and hygiene items. He was very surprised and told me, "Death row is not what I expected." I told him how I was just as shocked when I first arrived. I said that I had expected silence of the lambs type stuff.

We went on to talk about the death penalty in general and I told him that he could waste away his time back here and get caught up in the negative aspects, or start fighting and working on his appeals. I mentioned that I've seen some pretty miraculous stuff and that nothing is final until the very end. Most importantly, I told him, was to try to use this time to reflect on his life and make positive changes. The jury said you couldn't change and therefore deserved to be killed. Prove them wrong. I can only hope those words inspired him.

He did tell me something I found to be odd. During his sentencing phase he said that the prosecutors used the "Texas 7" as one of the reasons he should be killed. I asked how this was relative to his case, and he said that they said a person with a lot of time or a life sentence would have nothing to lose and would figure out a way to escape and hurt or kill more people. I find it odd that the prosecutor would not address why someone would feel hopeless in the first place. I told the guy, regardless, they should not be allowed to use something that doesn't pertain to him or his case against him. Apparently this is standard and acceptable in a capital murder trial. Anything to make a juror have fear.


October 22nd, 2017

If you look out of my window you'll see the buildings damp with rain. A light mist is coming down, and it almost looks like the fuzz you would see on a damaged television. Off in the distance and at an angle from where I am, you can see the horses out and about. A flock of white herons is moving from patch of ground to patch of ground, pecking away for something to eat.

Today is the first real day of fall we've had. I have to say it's about 65 degrees right now and just a little past noon time. It's supposed to get even cooler. I love it. I had to start writing this early to take my mind off of Rush Limbaugh. He kind of pissed me off bashing liberals. I very rarely listen to AM radio, as reception is very weak during the daytime, but someone told me a simple way of "boosting" the AM signal without doing anything severe to the radio and without risking the guards taking it. I kind of questioned his reliability in this, but as soon as I did it the AM jumped to life. Amazing what you learn in this place. A place where they hold us down, yet knowledge and experimentation can thrive. Anyway, I digress…

Something funny happened early this morning around 6:30am...I was sleeping soundly (if not having a very strange dream) when all of a sudden I heard a lot of commotion coming from out in the dayroom area. At first I thought it was just a guy being loud at recreation. It turns out he had been pulled out of his cell to be searched, but refused to let the sergeant strip search him. He kept saying, "Nah, man, you just want to see my ass!" So, they went and called the riot team. Now, I don't like it when they gas and beat up a guy, but the gas they sprayed at this guy didn't have the effect they wanted it to have. He only sneezed and said, "Hey, I can't see, Homies!" After a couple more bursts of gas he stripped out. Now, usually at this point most people who would be sprayed would be coughing and gagging. Not this guy! He stepped out of the day room after they handcuffed him and was walking with a strut and said, "I knew it wouldn't be no fair fight. That's the only reason I came out." Everyone was laughing so hard. It was quite comical.

About this strange dream…I dreamt that a church group came to bring everyone cookies back here, as every now and then a church group will do. Though, it didn't stop there.  All of a sudden I was given a full bag of candy bars, then a huge  bag filled with chips and all sorts of other candies. It just kept coming, bag after bag. Then a guy pulled out a CD player from a box and gave me that. Soon my cell was filled with food and all sorts of other things like art supplies and paper and such. They were doing this for every cell. I just found it very strange, especially since it seemed so realistic.

I guess I'm going to spend the rest of the day listening to the radio and reading.


October 21st, 2007

Today has been a busy day for me. I've been typing all day long and I'm just now on my last item - this journal. I'll be glad to finish 'cause I really want to get back into this book called City Infernal. It's kind of a rip off of Neil Gaiman's "Never Where", but  it has some Clive Barker elements in the shock of its horror. I'm enjoying it, though. It's written well.

Last night I heard on the news (CBS 11 out of Houston) that they are tying to get people riled up that prisoners, especially death row prisoners, have blogs or journals online. They had the ever-hungry media whore Andy Kahan on it. He's the guy who acts all self righteous and loves to put prisoners down and speak up for victims, even when many families have said they do not want this guy as a mouthpiece for them. The guy is pretty miserable and full of it. I have to say that I am 100% full of empathy for any victim, but that being said I feel that I should be able to write about life here and contest the stereo-typical image and judgments of guys back here. Not only that, but I agree with what Ray Hill said during the news segment...In light of so many people being exonerated and such, without these websites, blogs and journals, those who are fighting would have no way of getting the truth out to the public, so it's essential in that regard. If someone is fighting for their life, how many avenues are there? The chances of getting a state appointed attorney that will do everything they are supposed to do is so rare it's a shame. What else is there to do? That's what has my ire today.

I've been thinking about an odd phenomenon back here…I don't know if there has been any study of this by psychiatrists, but I was talking to my neighbor about many people who are natural extroverts becoming introverts and vice versa. Even with myself, I'm a very private person, yet I've put myself out there by doing this journal and trying to get guys back here to get active in their own fight for saving  their lives. I know one guy that when he got here was miserable and would not talk to anyone, yet, now he's probably one of the most outgoing people I know. I've known guys who come in and are loud and talk to everyone and then slowly shut down and become a shell of who they were. It's odd. I'm thinking it has to do with this segregated environment. It has to be psychological…

Something else to think about, I suppose.


October 20th, 2007

It's a really pretty and cool Saturday morning. They are passing out lunch right now and I'm sitting here waiting to go to recreation. I slept pretty well last night and got up with plenty of energy. When I return from recreation I will write more. While I wait for recreation I've decided to write about this thing I just heard on the radio. It was a re-broadcast  of a radio show called "Rula and Ryan's Roses." The premise is a guy or girl who thinks their lover his cheating on them has Rula or Ryan call them up with a scam for free roses from an upstart flower company. They ask them who they would like to send the roses to. Now, here is when it can get messy. The accuser is listening in on the conversation. Sometimes the suspect has the flowers sent to someone else, sometimes  it's sent to their boyfriend or girlfriend. So, this lady calls in who is all but sure her husband is cheating on her. She says, "He's been hiding his cell phone and every time he's on the computer he turns it off if I walk near him or ask what he's doing…" and so forth. So, the radio calls this guy up and gives him the scam. "Where do you want these flowers sent?" Rula asks and the suspect says, "I would love to send these to my wife because our five year anniversary is coming up and it would be perfect…" Of course now they have to tell him it's a scam even though he passed the test, so they bring in the wife and she is still accusing him! She says, "Well, why are hiding things from me? He tells her he doesn't want to get into it over the radio, but she keeps pushing and the DJ's are encouraging her too. Finally he says, "All I wanted to do is surprise you…All those phone calls, the computer… everything…I've been trying to set up a surprise honeymoon for the same place and the same room that we had after our wedding." Silence. Then the wife says, "Uh…I feel really stupid. I'm so sorry." But now the guy feels exposed and he is pissed about her doing this live on the air. It was crazy.

I just got back from recreation. I picked up a horror book that looks to be very good. I can't wait to start it up here in a bit. Right now I'm listening to some crazy movie on the radio. It has Cameron Diaz. It's  pretty strange. Hope you have a good evening.


October 19th, 2007

The sun is out and it's a lovely day. I was supposed to go outside, but if I had it would've been at night and I didn't really feel like going out to recreation real late, so I asked the guards if I could go to a dayroom. They put me in A-Dayroom and I spent it talking about horror movies with a guy. It brought back a lot of memories. See, as a kid and even as a teen my parents forbade us to watch horror movies. I think it was mainly because when I was first adopted I used to have a lot of nightmares and I remember that my biological parents would always watch them with me in the room. I still get memory flashes of seeing "Jaws" and "Halloween" and a few others.

The first time I snuck around and watched a horror movie, I think I was about 11 or 12. I wanted to hang out with my best friends Blake and Chad. At first we were at Chad's house and then Blake said a really good movie was coming on Cinemax. Chad didn't have Cinemax so we went across the street to Blake's house. He put it on and a preview for "The Gate" came on with the announcement, "Coming up next." I looked at them and said, "Uh…I don't know…I'm not allowed to watch horror movies." They looked at me like I was crazy and started to make fun of me. "What are you, scared, Randy?" (I was, to be honest!) I said, "No! But my parents will ground me if they find out!" I didn't want to go home so I told them I would play outside until the movie ended. They teased me some more and I went out to the front yard. After about ten minutes I began to feel really stupid and so I went back inside and joined them. The movie did freak me out, especially one scene in which the kid opens his hand and there's an eyeball staring back at him! I think a little pee might've come out. Ha-ha. After that, though, I was hooked on scary movies. I just had to sneak around to watch them.

When the HBO series "Tales from the Crypt" came on it was at the same time my family would go swimming in the back yard and if it wasn't a rerun I would skip swimming with them so I could sneak in and watch it instead. I think my parents took it as being antiso-cial, but it wasn't! I was just trying to keep up with the show 'cause my friends who watched it would talk about it and I'd feel out of the loop. Sadly, had I known my current predicament I would've definitely spent the time with them instead. Hindsight doesn't do a lot of good in situations like that.


October 18th, 2007

The radio antenna has been fixed. Some guys actually cheered and one guy began to scream, "My radio works!" The things we get excited over back here. I finished reading D-Day. Talk about an intense book. The battles on Omaha Beach seemed to be the worst. In one account, a captain sees a soldier dazed and walking around on the beach as shells and bullets are falling all around him. The captain sees that he's got some kind of wire that would be useful so he yells to the soldier to give him the wire. The solder casually replies, "I would, Sir, but what will I do with this?" and hands the captain his left arm! One guy gets his chin blown off and he's running up the beach trying to hold his jaw back on. War sucks. Though I do feel strongly the WW2 was one of those necessary ones.

My next book is on music and the brain by Oliver Sachs. He writes mainly about neurological issues and they tend to be very touching and funny. It's not dry science or medical mumbo-jumbo. I enjoy reading his books.


October 17th, 2007

They fixed the main antenna today so everything is back to normal with our radio reception. I was surprised it was fixed so fast, but I think had it not been that general population was without TV and therefore not pacified, they wouldn't have been so quick to fix it.

I've spent most of the day reading another WW2 book called D-Day. It's about the invasion of Normandy, France. I'm just fascinated by the sacrifice and everything that went down during that period. Very powerful and moving  stuff.

The sun is out and bright after a semi-stormy day. I will be going to recreation a bit late today, which is a little irritating, but I need to get out of this cell. I feel penned up. Well, that's probably because I am! I really don't have anything else to say or write about so I will close here.


October 16th, 2007

The sun is finally out, but radio reception is out completely as of now. General population is without TV so I don't imagine the antenna being messed up for much longer. They have to keep those guys pacified or they'll begin to have trouble.

I went outside early this morning and then was called out for an attorney visit. I was told that I'll be returning to Dallas County, where my trial was held, for a hearing in which one of my co-defendants is going to testify that I was not a shooter. I don't mind getting away from this place for a bit, but I'm not looking forward to Dallas County. For the two years I waited for my trial they would not let me recreate or do anything. I was searched three times a day and anytime I left my cell I was fully shackled. Plus, they kept me isolated from everyone else so I never knew what was going on. It sucked, and I ended up stressing out and such that I lost more than 45 pounds. I was down to 165, which I probably hadn't weighed since 7th grade. Maybe now that time has passed and I've been here without incident, they'll ease up and it won't be so bad. My time frame is anywhere from now to January so I'll keep you posted. Though, things are looking good for now...I'm optimistic about everything.  

Not much else is happening. I just finished reading the last Harry Potter book and my neighbor has given me a World War II book called D-Day, which I'm about to get into. I'm fascinated by World War II after reading and listening to "The War."


October 15th, 2007

Well, that just sucks…It had been relatively nice outside when a storm came from nowhere. Then the lightning kicked in and it became a freakish light show. Things were fine with the reception on the radio and I was jamming when all of a sudden I heard a loud, "ccccckkkkkkk!" sound and the reception  became very weak. I checked my TV and that was out completely. Others began to complain about much the same. Turns out the main antenna for general population's TV, and our radio signal, was jacked and fried. Lord knows how long it will be until it gets fixed. I mean, I can hear some stations but it's all pretty bad. Thank God I like to read. Ha-ha.

That was pretty much our excitement for the day…


October 14th, 2007

I just finished listening to the radio show called "This American Life." Today the program was about rehabilitation in prison and a particular program in St. Louis that allows prisoners to put on plays by Shakespeare. It  was very moving. By acting and reading the plays, they learn about themselves and identify with the characters in the play or plays. The success rate of these inmates was about 100%. It begs the question as to why more places aren't coming up with programs such as these to educate and rehabilitate prisoners. I think the country is slowly beginning to understand that locking guys up and throwing away the keys is no longer an acceptable solution to the problem.

It's really lovely outside. I'm once again in a cell where I can look out and see horses. I bet they are loving this cool weather. Though it's supposed to warm back up and storms are moving in. Mother Nature is going through menopause. Crazy.

I woke up this morning feeling pretty good. I got a full night's sleep and when I got up I just got to my daily duties. Now I'm fully caught up and waiting for KDOL's program to start, though the reception is messed up right now. It's not even coming in.

Today I should finish Harry Potter. Man, this book is violent…It's a bloodbath! I like how the author knew how to measure out the readers who grew up with the book's maturity. I mean, it makes sense that if you started reading this at 12 or 13 you would be old enough to handle the book as it now is. Very smart.

Well, I'm just rambling about and wanted to type up something for today.


October 13th, 2007

It's Saturday evening and I'm about to get back into Harry Potter. Yes, I know, I'm a dork, but the book and series are good and I don't care. Ha! Earlier I made some tuna tacos for my neighbor's birthday. We enjoyed them. I liked doing something for him, too. He doesn't have a lot of support so to bring him a decent birthday made me feel good. I told him that whenever we go to the store that I'd get him an ice cream, too. He's only 19 and I feel bad because that's just too damn young to be on death row. I don't see how a jury can say that a person that young is beyond rehabilitation. Nuts.

I can't wait for Austin City Limits to come on in a bit. Tonight is the band Explosions in the Sky. Woohoo! I know it's going to be good.

Not much else has been going on today. It's been pretty laid back.


October 12th, 2007

Today was kind of odd. I woke up at six in the morning for recreation, but because guys have been getting busted with cell phones, etc. they've been doing these surprise shake-downs each morning. They hit when everyone is sleeping to catch them off guard. About 10-15 guards swarm in like mad bees and start pulling inmates from their cells. So, they did this to A-section and that delayed recreation. I ended up going out at 9:00am.

When I was outside they put a guy out with me who I had gotten into it with about eight months ago. See, this dude had been masturbating in the dayroom and I found that very disrespectful. He and his lover were doing it to each other, one from the cell and one standing across from the door. When I went to look out of my door I was like, "Oh, shit!" and went and sat back down on my bed. When they were done I got up and told the guy he was disrespectful and disgusting. That spread like wild fire and suddenly I had been the one who "outed" that he was gay. Now, I could not care less if he's gay. I was only upset that he did his business out in the open and where others recreate.

So I'm outside and here he comes. He looks at me with this, "You…" expression and I smirk at him. First he starts to cuss me out, but I don't feel like getting into a shouting match with him and when he stops I say, "Well, regardless of how you feel, what you did was pretty disrespectful and I'm the only one who told you to your face. I haven't been bashing you or anything like that. Just keep it in your cell. That's gross, dude. Whetheryou're gay or not is not my business. Only you can say, but if you are you shouldn't be ashamed. I wasn't trying to make you look bad. If I did, I apologize. I just wanted you to know that what you did out in the open was wrong." He says, "Well, it's still fucked up." "Maybe," I said, "but you have to think about other people. If I put my hands on the bars I don't want to have to wonder if somebody's love juice is all over it. Know what I mean?"

We talked back and forth for a bit and he calmed down and said he didn't care if people knew he was gay or not. I said that was good. Be yourself. Stop trying  to be someone you're not. You'll find life a lot easier. After that we got along fine.

That was today in a nutshell. Odd.


October 11th, 2007

Today feels exactly the same as yesterday. Exciting, huh?


October 10th 2007

It's Wednesday afternoon and it's been relatively uneventful. I was moved last night and I like the cell that I am in, but I didn't like it at first. For some reason they've been moving me into cells right after a mentally ill person has previously lived in it and I'm left to clean up the mess. This cell smelled like urine and was just filthy. It's all okay now though.

I wish I had something to write about, but it's been so slow recently and I haven't been in much of a writing mood…At least the sun is out and it finally has cooled off a fraction.


October 9th 2007

Yes, my cell is haunted…It happened again early in the morning...I usually don't get up for breakfast, but for whatever reason I crawled out of bed and decided to get the biscuits and cereal. I also got a cup of coffee. I quickly scoffed everything down, but didn't drink the coffee. Instead I just let it sit on my desk. I fell back asleep when at about 4:45am I hear a loud, "Splash! Clank clank!" and I feel something on my arm. I think my arm is wet…and I realize the cup was knocked off of my table. I jump out of bed and begin to wipe everything up and there is coffee everywhere, on my papers, my Harry Potter book, on my typewriter, my sheets. I get everything cleaned up (some stuff was ruined) and I start to think that maybe I hit the table with my arm, I didn't feel myself smack into anything and with the force that the cup was sent flying I surely would have felt something! So I told the ghost in my cell, "Dude, chill out! I'll only be here two more freaking days!" and fell back to sleep. I'm only half kidding.

Today is an outside day and I plan on going outside and playing some ball. I'm determined not to get beat down. We shall see. Not much to report around here. I'm trying to stay busy.


October 8th, 2007

It's Columbus Day today.  I didn't think they would run visits or mail but I just saw some guys go out to visit and the mail room ladies were here earlier.

I finished "The War" last night and was really impressed. I took it out to recreation today and gave it to one of my friends, "Big Foot." I know that he'll enjoy it and I asked him to share it with those he knows would also read it. I wish I could donate it to the library, as that is a very important book, but oddly enough they won't accept most donations from inmates. Well, I think they will, but what happens is the prisoners  who work in the library keep books they like for themselves. Kind of a first dibs on the good books system.

A funny thing happened a little bit earlier. Big Foot was in our dayroom and there were about four or five of us having a sort of roundtable debate on the death penalty and such, and then it drifted into politics and about George Bush. Now, for the stranger who walks into a prison they probably have a preconceived notion that we are all uneducated dumb ass criminals. So, as we're all talking, a small group of about three women and four men all dressed up in business attire come strolling onto our pod. They stop in front of our dayroom while a bunch of prisoners are talking about politics. I swear you could see a wave of puzzlement wash over their faces and then one of the men leaned to another man and began to whisper. They all looked stunned. I love it when things like that happen, because I think when groups such as that walk into death row among the so called "worst of the worst" they expect (as even I once did) that all of us would be raging men and foaming at the mouth. Anything that defies that stereotype is one more victory for us.

They are actually passing out mail right now. Guess I'll close here.


October 7th, 2007

Just a hundred pages to go. I really didn't want to stop, but I had to catch up on my chores. Clean my cell, do laundry, and listen to KDOL.  I had some dreams last night about the war… It was crazy. This book has consumed my whole weekend. It officially goes into my top ten.

It's still grey outside, but warm and humid. I wish we could have some normal autumn weather…


October 6th, 2007

So I began the book "The War" and I cannot put it down. It's a thousand times better than even the documentary. The narrative is intense and it flows, but rather than just reading something and have vague images flash through your mind, you actually see the battles as they play out. I've never read a historical book (other than historical fiction) that puts an event so clear and focused in the mind. It's odd because as I'm reading it I feel like I'm actually there. Even when the book steps away from the front lines and back into 'everyday normal life' back in Mobile, or Waterbury in the U.S.

I knew I would end up spending all of my weekend on this book, so I took my writing supplies out to the day room at six in the morning and during my recreation wrote a few letters. It's been grey and raining all day today, but it gives atmosphere to the book. Right now the allied forces are gearing up to invade the beaches of Normandy…


October 5th, 2007

I went outside today and once again was beat down in basketball by my neighbor. I told him it was no fun playing anymore…I was kidding, of course. Earlier this morning I received the companion book to the PBS documentary "The War." I plan on starting the book tonight. I was flipping through the book and it is really dense, quite a bit more than I expected out of a companion book, but the pictures are really something… Some are pretty gruesome, but that sadly is war. I do believe that World War II was a necessary war, it's just sad that the world failed to learn it's lessons from that event and there is still death and destruction, genocide, greed…If the World War II book gets too heavy, I can always pick up the last book in the Harry Potter series, which has finally landed in my hot little hands. I really hope it's not a disappointing ending. Other guys who have read it back here have tried to give me hints and spoilers, but I immediately begin to yell, "I don't want to hear it  lalalalalalala!!!!" We shall see.

It's a lame holiday weekend which translates to long and boring. I hope I'll stay occupied.


October 4th, 2007

I think my cell is haunted! I really don't believe in ghosts, but ever since I've been in this cell strange things have been happening. I'm on a pod where there have been a few suicides over the years so… Last night as I was falling asleep I hear two sharp raps on my door (yes, I use the word 'rap' in respect to Edgar Allen Poe. At least I didn't say, "Chamber door…"). I was just on the edge of sleep where you feel like you are floating and I shot awake thinking maybe a guard was at my door. I get out of bed and look out my door and there's no one on the run. I think that maybe my mind was creating sounds so I crawl back into bed. A few minutes later my t-shirt hanging on my clothes line falls down. At this point I'm a little spooked. Shortly after that I feel something pinch my skin a little bit. It was a very strange series of events. I tossed and turned the rest of the night.

It's been a relatively uneventful day.


October 3rd, 2007

Geeze, this week is already shooting by. Today is a no recreation day and I'm trying to get motivated to do something. It's pretty hot and I'm in a corner cell that has two walls that face the sun, so I'm cooking. Fall needs to come on in.  

I'm going to sound like a dork, but I'm looking forward to Kid Nation tonight on CBS. I've listened to every episode and it's surprisingly good. The kids haven't gone "lord of the flies" yet and I'm really surprised at how they are all working together so well. There  are a few spoiled brats, but my favorite kid is this girl who stood up for the chickens last week. A complete 10 year old little activist! They had a choice to kill and eat the chickens in their town or not. The kids took a vote and decided to eat them, so the girl locked herself in the chicken coup to keep the other kids from killing them! I was really proud of her. Ultimately she lost and was forced to come out, but after they killed the two chickens she did it again and made them promise not to kill anymore. Well, now there's some drama because at the end of each episode they vote and award a kid who works the hardest a $20,000 gold star, and this kid Greg had been working hard solely to win the money. There was another kid who genuinely won the money and deserved it, so Greg was pissed and at the end of the episode vowed that those who voted against him would pay…I really am a dork! Ha-ha.

Not much else going on around here. I'll probably finish the rest of the book I started reading yesterday and get caught up on some mail.


October 2nd, 2007

My neighbor has to be one of the best basketball players on death row. We went out again today and he demolished me 20 games to 2. Definitely not pretty. I mean, we were neck and neck almost every game, but he never missed a shot, so if and when I missed, I'd have to run my ass off and try to get two in to make up for it. It was a slaughter…

I've spent most of the day reading a book called God's Harvard about a college that trains its students to be warriors for Christ and to take the country back…It's bringing back all of these wacky memories from going to school in Kentucky. I mean, there were some teachers with exactly same views, and the rules concerning music and the dress code were identical. What's really striking about some of the views expressed in this book are how they are so similar with the views ideologically of, say, extreme Islam. What I mean is here we are bashing these views and you have people on the right who always are saying, "Well, in Islam women don't have rights etc…" Yet in evangelical Christianity the woman must submit to the man, women can't wear what they want to wear, etc…What's the difference? I was telling someone that the only reason some of these folks haven't gone around blowing things up (though some have, like abortion clinics…) is because it's not acceptable in our society. However, if a large group of people said, "Well, it's okay to blow things up in the name of your religion…" Trust me, some of them would be doing it.

Which leads me to something else…Tonight I received an article talking about how the Supreme Court was going to hear arguments about the unconstitutionality of the lethal injection method of the death penalty. The article was taken from USA Today and I guess on their website you can leave comments for or against  the matter. So there are two comments that struck out and were just ignorant. One comments said, "Death penalty is not for the poor…it is for murderers and those that cannot live in a civil society." Okay, first, civil societies don't execute their citizens. The U.S. is the  ONLY "civil" society that still does. Canada? Nope. Europe? Nope. England? Nope. Secondly, to say that the death penalty is not for the poor loses the point altogether. A poor person is less likely to receive  a fair and proper trial as opposed to someone who can pay for good representation. If you don't believe that every citizen of this country  should receive a fair trial then you, my friend, do not believe in our Constitution and therefore are a traitor to this country and qualify for the death penalty. (I'm being ironic, of course…) I suppose according to the guy who wrote that comment, all of those monks that were gunned down in Burma for calling on their government for freedom deserved to be beaten and shot down because they defied their leaders. Point is, if you say you want to live by the sword, then surely you should expect to die by the sword. As long as the death penalty exists in the U.S, any citizen in this country could very well be put down by the system that they believe in…Don't think for one second it's not possible, because innocents are killed all the time.

Whew…went on a little rant there, didn't ? So sorry!


October 1st, 2007

Today I am just emotionally worn out from all the excitement of the last four days. I thought I'd be all right, but at times it just can wear you down. It's really wild when you can see and feel the psychological effects of being isolated in a single cell environment going on almost seven years now. I don't think a single soul back here is "perfectly fine." If they say that, they are liars or in denial.

Something did happen at dinner that I thought was kind of oddly funny, I guess for my weird sense of humor anyway…I'm a huge lover of sauerkraut. When I ate meat I'd ate it with anything. So for dinner on the normal trays they were having hot dogs, baked beans, sauerkraut and mustard/relish. I was happy that I got two servings of the kraut. As I'm eating it and working my way to the bottom of the tray there is half a hot dog. I don't know why I said it, but I told the guard as he passed by my cell, "Hey, since when did they start giving the vegetarians Cracker Jack prizes in their food?" I showed him and I couldn't stop laughing. I think he thought I must've lost my mind. I thought it was funny anyway. I mean, I haven't had a box of Cracker Jacks in probably 15 to 16 years and that reference came out of nowhere.

Well, time to listen to the wonderful PBS documentary "The War."


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