Well, I thought today we'd be off lockdown. I woke up at 5am, hoping for a hot breakfast after three long weeks of cold pancakes thrown into a bag, and I thought we'd surely go to recreation today! Nope. We got showers, but no recreation. Maybe tomorrow.
Because A-pod is now having their hot water heater replaced, they brought Anthony Shore over here; it's his execution day and as he left B-pod I had the sad thought...He probably just took the last shower of his life. I don't often allow my mind to wander "there" but seeing things like this, I can't help but think about how he's feeling, if he actually slept the previous night, and the fact that it's potentially his last day on earth...What possibly goes through a person's mind on a day like today? Everything you do is potentially a "last". Are you hyper-aware of every little thing? Sights, smells, sounds and conversations? Does the voice of G-d speak to you? Comfort you? Do you become so hyper-aware that you can peer beyond the veil that seperates life and death and see into another realm?
So many questions that I'm really not ready to receive the answers to...I can only hope that Anthony Shore somehow has peace and finds remorse and forgiveness.
October 17th, 2017
I woke up a bit agitated. I'm in a better mood now but with another execution pending tomorrow...It just angers me when I hear politicians complain about where they'll find resources and money with all of these natural disasters exploding all across the North American continent, when we're wasting millions trying to kill someone for pure revenge. Think of all the lives you will save instead of trying to kill a person...instead of locking them up for life and potentially allowing them to change and give back to society. We never seem to lack funding for wars/defense or for the implementation of the death penalty, but we can't take care of medical care or victims of natural disasters. Our priorities are all out of whack.
Otherwise I'm feeling okay. It's Tuesday and (hopefully) the last day of the lockdown. The lieutenant passed by earlier and said everything "should" be back to normal tomorrow, and I'm so looking forward to having a jog, after three weeks of being locked up in a cell, 24/7.
Not much else to say today...Maybe I'll write more tomorrow.
October 9th, 2017
I had to give my brain a rest. I was starting to get a bit anxious...I have a few ideas that may or may not be good ones - in theory, they're great! But real world practicality? We'll see...
It's Monday morning and we were expecting today to be the shakedown day, but it's going to be tomorrow. They're doing A-pod today, B-pod tomorrow. I'm just ready for this to be over.
I woke up, exercised, washed, and decided to wash my sheets as well. Then I ate the hard boiled egg and single pancake that was "breakfast" and now I'm writing. I thought I'd lighten things up today with a couple of funny things. As I was exercising this morning the song "Genie in a bottle" by Christina Aguilera came on. It reminded me of this time when I was on Connally Unit. I had only been there for about a week, and I didn't know my cell mate too well. He seemed a little odd, but cool, and he was being really nice in letting me use his radio when he was out of the cell. One night I went to sleep only to wake up to sounds of shuffling across the floor. I jumped up, thinking my cell mate was going to attack me but quickly noticed he was dancing like Michael Jackson as "Genie in a bottle" blared from his head phones. I yelled "celly! celly! what the hell are you doing? it's 2:15 a.m.!" He never stopped dancing, only said "when the music moves you, you gotta dance!" I thought "ooookay". I mean, what was I going to do? He was right - when the music moves you, you gotta dance! It still makes me laugh thinking about it.
I'll probably spend the rest of the day getting all my stuff organized for the shakedown tomorrow. I really want it to be over with! I have someone "cool" to write to as well! But I'll leave you all with this...I ran across this poem in a magazine the other day. It really spoke to me. It's taken from the Old Norse poem Havamal:
Pets die, friends die,
Yes and you die,
I know one thing that does not die,
The word a man leaves behind.
October 5th, 2017
I slept in late today. I'm normally out of bed at around 5:30-6am, but I slept till about 8:30 a.m. Maybe because I'm stressed. Who knows? I just didn't want to get up. I didn't have any trouble getting to sleep - I rarely do. And I've never been an insomniac, or one who takes naps unless I'm really exhausted. Anyway, it felt good to sleep in.
I've been thinking about faith, G-d, etc...I used to consider myself a fairly devoted Jew in the sense that I was a strong believer, and I tried to keep the religious holidays and traditions. I wasn't orthodox, I never kept kosher, and didn't care about dating someone outside of Judaism either...But I am spiritual, and my soul has always been deeply rooted in being Jewish. At some point in the past 7 years I kind of turned my back on religion/dogma as a whole. I think it had more to do with the absolute frustration of seeing people of all faiths use their religion to justify killing people, hating people different than you, etc...It just became too much for me and I began to consider myself more agnostic than anything. I still identified as being Jewish but was like, you know - I just don't know anymore! I'm tired of seeing what religion is doing to this world; it's ripping us apart. Every now and then I would still find myself saying a prayer for someone or "talking" to G-d, and it still felt natural. I felt like a bit of hypocrite but I don't know...In my situation now, I've been praying and I thought "Man...It's pretty assuming of me to call on G-d now for something I need" but don't we all do it...? Call on a person we believe can help us in a time of need?
I heard a Rabbi on NPR the other day say that part of faith is doubt. I kind of get it. I mean, I don't get why "he" allows suffering or for mankind to hurt one another but just as human beings have an incredible propensity for violence, we also have an amazing ability for goodness and compassion - love and giving in times of need. We're an interesting species. We have to figure out ways to cultivate these things across the world. I'm not mad at religion; I'm mad at the people who misuse it. It's not G-d's fault. I'd be an idiot to think I deserve any prayer answered over the millions of more deserving souls. All I can hope is to get a consideration...I realize now that is what faith really is.
October 4th, 2017
Woke up this morning, exercised, got a shower and now I'm writing. As far as I know they're starting on C-pod for shakedowns/cell searches. Three down. Three more to go. We'll probably be next (I'm currently on B-pod). I just want to get it over with.
Sometimes I really hate my brain, I hate being neurotic, I hate getting anxious and over thinking things, but the more I think about my appeal, the more restless I get. You know what I feel like? I feel like a guy who was just diagnosed with cancer. I want to know how long I might have...I want to know what treatment is available to me, and I want to know how good the doctor is and if he thinks I can make it. I feel like I received a diagnosis in the mail with little explanation. It sucks! Whatever it is, I want to do the opposite of Walter White and make something positive out of it. I'm trying to be positive, I'm trying to be focused; but the more I think, the more anxious I get. I don't have the switch that some people have where I can shut off my emotions...shut off the thinking part of my brain. Maybe I need a lobotomy. I'd gladly accept it right about now...I just need a miracle. I know there are so many more deserving people than me in the world, and I feel so selfish for even asking. I don't know! Argh! I hate - hate - HATE my head sometimes.
October 2nd, 2017
I didn't wake up until 7am, and my first thought of the day was "why aren't the guards doing showers ?" I rolled over, turned on my radio, and heard the news...Over 50 dead, and hundreds shot and injured, in a mass shooting in Las Vegas...My eyes filled with tears...It's insane, and makes no sense whatsoever. I felt real shitty at that moment...How do I go through the day and worry about my appeals and own life when these people, some of them having probably never hurt a single person in their entire life, never had a chance? I commend everyone who helped amidst the chaos, the police, the paramedics, etc...No doubt they saved countless lives. That is the true spirit of America.
I was a bit surprised that they ended up moving me last night. I remained on the same pod, just a section over, but I lost my great view. For the past month I had a perfect view of the front of the prison: the parking lot, the side walk that leads to the visitation building/administration building. I'd spend hours staring out my window watching the world go by. The thing that brought the biggest smile (and a few teary eyes) was watching the family members who brought kids in. The games they'd play on the side walk, running, skipping. The other day I saw a brother and sister who couldn't have been more than five and seven. The brother would walk fast to get away from the sister, and the sister would run to catch up. The brother would walk faster, the sister would run to catch up...This went on for over 30-40 yards when all of a sudden they both take off in a mad dash to the front gate, the brother pushing his sister away as they run. These moments are priceless...The view will be missed.
Well, I got settled in, cleaned my cell up and was in bed by 10:15 p.m.
October 1st, 2017
Life is full of surprises and I guess even knowing that things can unexpectedly happen, people still get complacent. It's called living. Even back here, with the possibility of an unnatural death looming over our heads, we tend to just move on. People get caught up in penpals, football/sports, politics...whatever they need to keep their minds off of why they are actually here. We're not unlike cattle on green delicious grass until we're rustled up, put on a truck and taken to the slaughter house. Hey, the grass was good! I'm just as guilty of this, even though I do take a mindful approach to my life. I keep a routine, and I'm structured. I keep up with my legal stuff and even with all of that it is still a shock when the federal court denies your appeal. With every thing that had been going on, fighting for a new attorney, multiple judges playing musical chairs, etc...the LAST thing I expected was to be denied amongst all of the chaos.
Oddly enough, I'm not as panicked as I thought I would be entering into the 5th circuit (the last stage of the appeal process unless a miracle occurs and the Supreme Court decides to take a look at a person's appeal). Am I scared? Sure! But I also accept that I have little control over what happens next. I did get a new attorney and I hope like hell he's good and will do all that he can to fight and of course I will do what I can to fight...But hope...faith in G-d, the universe, and everything, are what I have to surrender myself to.
Over the past couple of days my thoughts have been on the process of the death penalty, and why we have the death penalty in the U.S. How, as people, we decide who gets to live, who gets to die, the unfairness of the application...and my will to live. It's easy for a person to say "if you kill you forfeit your life". If only it were that easy and I guess if it was truly applied that way the population of earth would probably be half of what it is today. There are thousands of killers in General Population right now, here in Texas, watching T.V., getting contact visits, even having jobs. While only a couple of hundred sit on death row in a legal limbo waiting to DIE. There are cases under Texas Law of Parties where the actual killer was given a life sentence by a jury while the person who maybe just drove the getaway car or didn't participate in the murder was given death. Is that a fair application of the death penalty? I could give a hundred examples of how it's arbitrarily applied. The system is not built on justice...the system is built on bullshit. Back here, it's easy to feel defeated or frustrated when you see a guy get lucky enough to have an attorney who is dedicated and deligent; one who does not believe in capital punishment, and who pulls no punches. They'll file everything under the sun to see if it sticks and then the next thing you know, you're watching a guy you know isn't mentally retarted receive a life sentence for mental retardation, while the guy who really is mentally deficient or ill has a shitty ass attorney who does the bare minimum on his appeals and the guy ends up being executed. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy when a person leaves this place on a bus and not in a body bag. I just get frustrated at how unfair the place is. But also...I'm only human. It might be a selfish way to think at times, "why does he get to live or get action on his case and the dude is guilty as fuck?!" I instantly feel guilty/bad for having those thoughts, but geeze...I'm sitting here for something I truly didn't do. Something my co-defendants all admit I didn't do and ballistics evidence proves I didn't do, but because I was there, I'm guilty. It's frustrating. There are others like me in the same situation.
I don't believe in the death penalty. Seeing what I have seen for the past 14 years, even the most hardened of death penalty supporters would shudder if they'd seen the same things...It would be impossible to not feel the way I do. To know how fucked up the system really is - and don't misunderstand me, I'm in no way playing the victim role - makes it tough to swallow. Even though I'm not a murderer, I do accept that choices I made in life have lead me here where I am now...I just want a chance, a chance to prove that I'm no longer that stupid, naive, 23 year old who escaped...That I'm not as impulsive as I once was...That while not perfect, I try to live my life being mindful of others, empathetic and compassionate. Yeah, I get angry, frustrated, pissed even...but show me a single human being on this planet who doesn't! I don't think I'm a good person, I KNOW I'm a good person. I have so many ideas I'd love to be able to make a reality if I lived; I would show the public that the right choice was made if my life was spared.