As I type this Josef just called into the radio program. Wonderful…Change is coming!
I know this.
September 29th, 2007
A beautiful Saturday. I'm just relaxing and enjoying the afternoon, still reflecting on the past visits. So precious and important to me. Something that my soul needed, not just as a cleansing, but as an affirmation that our destinies are not set in stone. That regardless of our situations, whatever walks of life they might be, we choose and can change our paths. God, the universe, whatever it is, I believe is bendable and workable, and we have to realize who we are and what we can become. I have a drive and desire now that I have not had in years - a revelation if you want to call it that, and I know now more than ever that my life does not end with this place or situation. More importantly, that love is the driving force of all things positive in this life. It makes everything and anything possible. The Beatles song, "Within You, Without You" comes to mind.
So when I went to recreation I was able to talk to my Jewish buddy, "Big Foot." He's starting a new myspace page that I hope to have a link to soon. He's very passionate about change just as I am.
It's been so hot the past couple of days. I hope that fall gets here soon. I'm ready for it. They've already passed out blankets, but they're of no use yet. That sucks. Ha-ha.
Well, I will just wait and wait and wait. Fall come on! What good is listening to "It's the great pumpkin, Charlie Brown" if it's not cool?
Guess I'll close here for now.
September 28th, 2007
My day started off at 6:00am. I went outside and called my neighbor out to play basketball. It was a cool and easy sunrise and I thought, surely, I'm going to beat this guy's butt. Well, I didn't. I got stomped ten games to two. What made it even worse is the guy was 50 years old! Sheesh. I thought, well that's no way to start my day…Ha-ha.
I came in and showered and shaved, then shortly after was called to my visit. Right before I went to my own booth, I saw Mike, one of my co-defendants; he's the guy who dropped his appeals and is waiting to be executed. It's a sad thing, but seeing him smiling and so full of love and genuine peace was comforting. I hadn't seen him in two years, so when I passed him he says, "It's a shame, such a good looking guy and he cuts all his hair off…" I'm thinking, "Who is this?" And look and say, "Mike! Hey, I can't help it. I'm going bald!" Then I tell him, "I don't know how you're able to stay so strong." Before I got pulled away he said, "I'm at peace. I'm ready…" I don't agree with what he's doing, but I'm glad he's found peace.
I want to give an update on the paper rule. Due to the outside pressure of family and friends, they've amended the rule. We (inmates) will be allowed to use colored paper etc. until January 1st. Now, concerning people who write to us from outside, they will be allowed to continue to write on colored paper. Those letters won't be stopped. Also, inmates will be able to send cards and note cards that are colored and have colored envelopes. So, it's all good and everyone did a good job. My only comment concerning this is, and it's important to think about: if all the people who got in such a tiff over the paper would focus their complaints on the real, solid issues, what just happened with TDCJ actually changing the rule would happen a lot more with more pressing issues. Change can be had if everyone pressures them. You have a voice. You just proved it.
On that note I shall bid thee adieu. Good night. Blessings. And most of all Love and Peace.
September 27th, 2007
First, I am so sorry there were no entries for last week, but I think I threw them away. Sometimes I get so much junk I just begin to chuck stuff and whenever that happens I always lose something. Once I almost lost thirty $.41 stamps. Ugh! So, this time I think I lost my journals. Then this week for the most part I've been dealing with a tooth ache that has made it impossible to do anything. This morning I was feeling better. Right now as I type this I'm waiting for my friend from Germany who posts my journals to visit. I'm not exactly sure when he'll arrive, but I'm ready and anxious. I'm so grateful for all he's done and I can't wait to tell him. I can only hope that I make a good impression on him.
Hey, time for a visit…
Meeting Josef was wonderful. Such a calm, kind and compassionate man. Really amazing. I don't know why I've been blessed to have the people I do in my life, but they've had such a huge impact on who I've become over the past few years, I can't even begin to describe it. I still don't know what my personal journey in life is or where it will take me, but things are starting to show and reveal themselves…The feeling is euphoric. Compassion and love are like a drug. I feel I've tapped into something special here.
I'm so overloaded now. A visit like this will just knock you right off your feet and now I want to take a nap. I'm really tired...
September 16th, 2007
What a beautiful Sunday afternoon. Some friends called into KDOL and gave some very wonderful and cheerful messages. Sun is pouring through my window and I've managed to stay busy all day long. In fact, I'm beginning to wind down as I wait for dinner. Once I finish up I'll start reading a Dean Koontz collection. I am not really a big fan of hack writing. I think I've become a book snob and have to just enjoy good ol' escapism writing the way it's meant to be enjoyed. Besides, in my early teens I was a HUGE Koontz fan. Whenever I'd come home from school I'd ask my mom to take me to a bookstore (man, I was a dork!). CDs and books were the first things I wanted when I came back home from Kentucky. Then I'd call up my best friend Chad and we'd catch up on the latest movies.
Last night I heard a bunch of good music, but what surprised me the most was hearing the full seven minute album version song of The Cure's "Pictures of You" on that new station called "Jack." At first I thought it would be a radio edit, which is like three minutes long, but when the intro went on for almost two minutes, I was like, "Hell yeah!" I never cared for the radio edit version because you have to listen to that song in its entirety. It builds to a heart break as the words tell a story of a guy looking back at a relationship… Then as you're really caught up Robert Smith wails, "If only I'd thought of the right words, I could've held onto your heart. If only I'd thought of the right words, I wouldn't be breaking apart all my pictures of you…" After the bridge the song goes into a second movement and it just really kicks ass. It's a depressing song, but a beautiful song. It was awesome to hear the full version. It'd been way too long. Years, to be exact.
I also heard a bunch of new wave songs that I've never heard before, and I thought I'd heard just about ALL new wave music. I love when I hit music gold. You turn out the lights, lie on your bed and just get lost in it and for a brief moment you forget you're in this godforsaken place.
Dinner is here.
September 15th, 2007
Good ol' Saturday. It's bright and sunny. Pretty hot, too. I don't have recreation today, so I'm just lounging around my cell, listening to the radio and catching up on writing. Very exciting stuff. Actually I'm bored out of my ever loving mind.
I'm taking a day's rest today from exercising, but I'm so bored that I'm considering hitting it anyway. Fun!
September 14th, 2007
I'm so sore. I've been doing this new cardio workout and it's really beating me up. Plus I jogged for 20 minutes today. I'm hungry and sore.
I haven't really accomplished much today. I've just been lounging around. My mind is pretty blank. Sometimes the days are just a blank sheet of paper. Oh! (Thank God for word association!) I almost forgot…I had mentioned that TDCJ is changing it's stationary policy. Well, I wrote the mail room supervisor here on Polunsky and asked her to give a full disclosure of what will be considered "colored paper," as rules are often left to a unit's own interpretation. She wrote back saying that she was not going to allow us to write on anything but white paper. Period. Furthermore she was not going to allow letters that come in from the outside that are written or printed on colored paper. So…for those that do write to guys on Polunsky Unit or any other prison unit, after October 1st do not send us anything written on colored paper or the letter will be denied. This is important to remember. I do feel this is a very broad and unfair interpretation of the Administrative Policy that was put into place by TDCJ, so I'm asking everyone who does have contact with inmates within this system to write letters and even to start a petition in protest of such extremism. The rule is not about "security." It's about control. People can get dyes from the guards for crying out loud. I mean really flood Huntsville with letters, telephone calls, online petitions. Encourage those that you write to who are locked up to file a grievance. It's the only way there'll be a chance to have this rule tossed out. If this is allowed to slide by, as frivolous as paper might seem, they will try to see what else they can take away. I really believe that this is a test of how far they can take things.
Remember: October 1st, 2007.
I suppose on that note I shall end this entry for today.
September 13th, 2007
Happy Birthday to me. What was that one Saturday Night Live skit in which one lady with the really tight red pants would say, "I like to kick, stretch, then kick again: I'm 50! 50 years old!" Well, I'm 30! 30 years old! I've dreaded this day for so long. I mean, I've had a bona fide fear of my thirties. It's silly and I'm not the superstitious kind of person, but when I was 16 a weird thing happened…On a dare from some friends I went and had my palm read. The lady pointed to what she called my "Life line" on my palm and she said I had until I was 32. Now, I hadn't really given it much thought until I ended up in prison. It sort of manifested itself into a reality in my mind. Weird as it may seem, I was starting to believe it. Then when I was put on death row and I calculated the average time it took for the appeals process - six years - it came to, yep, 32. I was like, crap…that figures. So, I've been dreading turning 30. Even though, realistically, now it can't come to 32 because the time it's taking is significantly longer than the average appeal. I'm still in the State Courts, whereas most appeals are in Federal Court by the four year mark. So I'm just being silly with my fear…I know I'm not destined to die in this place. I really believe that I'll be off death row sooner rather than later. Kenneth Foster's commutation only brought more encouragement. I also believe that those who are around in the next five to seven years can look forward to a nationwide moratorium. It's coming.
Anyway, it's actually been a pretty good birthday. Earlier today one of my friends surprised me with some vegetarian tacos he cooked up which were quite delicious. He also gave me a soda to wash it down. Haha. This evening I received a bunch of cards from various organizations and churches which was really nice, and a couple of cards from friends. Now that I'm "30" it's like I've entered some sort of club, like, ah…you're finally a REAL adult! I still feel 18 at times though.
Not much else to report around here.
September 12th, 2007
It's a little after midnight and I'm settling into my new cell. I was moved from C-Pod (where I spent a month, a new record for the amount of time I'd been able to stay in a single place) to D-Pod. I was supposed to be moved into 14 cell, but as I was being taken upstairs some other inmates started yelling, "Randy, don't go into the cell, they just moved a guy out of there because the toilet is broken!" Sure enough, when they opened the door to the cell a rotten smell hit us and there was a big ol' Mr. Hanky floating in the toilet. Fortunately, this turd was not singing to us or telling us to brush our teeth. I told the guard that I would not move into a cell that is broken and so they put me in the dayroom until they could get approval from a ranking officer to move me into another cell.
As I was waiting for my new cell, one of the female officers standing nearby asked me how old I was. I thought this was a strange question, as it came out of nowhere, and so I said, "I turn 30 tomorrow." She looked around to see if any other guards were paying attention, lowered her voice and said, "Happy Birthday." That was cool.
Finally I was told I'd be moving into 81 cell. It's not a bad cell at all, but I have no view. There'll be no watching the horses for a bit…I'm tired now and technically speaking I'm 30. Five years ago being up past midnight would've been nothing to me. Now I just want to get some sleep. Good night.
September 11th, 2007
I saw something I had never seen before since I've been on death row. I had just gotten up from a nap because I went out to recreation at 6:30am and really exercised hard with a new workout plan. By the time I took a shower I was pooped. I get up and just on a whim I decide to look out my window to see what the horses are up to. I stood on my bed and peered out across the field and noticed dozens of white herons swoop down to land on the grass. They were so beautiful to watch. Big, graceful with their long necks and bright yellow beaks. I yelled for other guys in their cells to check them out and everyone was oohing and aahing. It had to be a good omen.
Last night I received an interesting letter that had two addresses where my brother might be living. Well, one address was the one he had been staying at, and the other I'm guessing is where he's living. It's in Argyle and that's where my biological family lives. I haven't been in contact with them for years now. Actually, it's been just about four years, but I thought it would be interesting to tell the story of them.
My brother and I were adopted when we were little kids. Wesley was taken away by the state before I was and so we were separated for a short time. I met up with him again in a foster home in Dallas. The foster family had wanted to adopt Wesley, but not me. I was fortunate that I had a social worker who did not want Wesley and me to separate. Later on a family from Arlington adopted us when I was five and Wesley was two.
My parents never tried to hide things from us about our biological family. We had pictures and of course I had many memories - mostly bad. As the years passed I never really had any desire to find or contact them. I remember asking my dad a few questions here and there about them, but for the most part my adopted family was my family. Even to this day I consider my adoptive mom and dad my only parents.
Fast forward to 2002. I was awaiting my trial. My brother had been in and out of jail and fortunately for him, I think he had a sympathetic judge who gave him one last chance and ordered him to a drug rehabilitation program. He finished that and was released on probation, though he still had orders to continue to take drug counseling classes. One night when the guard brought my mail I noticed a letter with an unfamiliar name and address. I thought, huh, a new pen pal and opened the letter. It was written in a hard to decipher scrawl much like my own handwriting and the grammar was horrible, but I read through it and was amazed by what this lady was saying…She was my biological mother and she knew about the scar on my wrist and how I got it. She told me that she had met Wesley at the same rehabilitation place and when she heard his name she asked if his brother was one of the guys who escaped from prison. Wesley said, yeah, he is, and then she told him she was his biological mother. Wesley being the skeptic he always has been said, prove it, asking how I got the scar on my wrist. She went into great detail, providing more information than he or I knew.
As I read those words I didn't really know how to feel about it. I'd always treated my childhood with indifference, not really understanding the complete emotional and psychological effect it had on my life as a whole, but I was curious to know more about who I was, what kind of kid I was, etc. and so I wrote to her. I still couldn't bring myself to call her "mom" but I was willing to forgive her and learn about who she was and is. Our first visit was very difficult. Probably more so for her. I noticed that despite the very hard years that were etched into her face that she was once a beautiful woman. Our eyes were identical. When she first saw me she started crying and walked away from the visitation booth. When she came back she said, "I can't believe how beautiful you are. You and Wesley have always been in my heart and I've not once not thought about y'all…" We talked and I asked her if she had changed her life. She said he had. In hindsight, I feel a bit like a hypocrite for asking that, because at the time I had yet to take any big steps in bettering myself.
Time passed and my trial was coming up. She disappeared (for reasons I can't disclose due to my current appeals) and I felt she hadn't really changed who she was. A lot of empty promises were made and broken. When I came to death row I still kept in contact. I had been pushing for her to meet my wife at the time, and I wanted to build some sort of quasi family. It didn't work. More broken promises. By this time I was determined to really turn my life around. When you stare death in the face you tend to want to make life-altering decisions. I felt that I couldn't let things keep me from making the progress within myself that I wanted, and was determined to make. I chose to sever ties. I held no animosity or grudge and I can honestly say that I do forgive my biological parents, but I had to distance myself from them. A year ago I decided to write to my biological mother and tell her that if she was willing to make changes in her life, I'd love to try again, but I never received a response.
I wrote all of this to get to a point and tie it in with the mail I received last night. I recently read a book called The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. It's really a simple, but beautiful book that opened my eyes to a few things. The book is about listening to the soul of the world and universe and how we're all connected. In the book there's no such thing as a coincidence. You have to "listen" and then decide whether you want to act on any particular event. Life is a journey. But there are things that do guide us if we choose to open our ears and eyes. I haven't fully wrapped my head around the concept of fate and destiny or free will, those sorts of ideas, but the more I go through this life, even life on death row, I see and hear the signs. And so I feel it is no coincidence that I should be given an address that not only could lead to my brother, but also to my biological mother. Maybe it's time to extend the hand once again and write and let her know that I'm willing to give it another chance. Maybe the white herons were a good omen.
Not much else to report on today. I'm waiting for a good music program to start and then I plan on reading the rest of the afternoon.
September 10th, 2007
Today I'm slightly irritated…It seems that TDCJ just takes and takes. Now they are starting to restrict the kinds of writing supplies we are able to use. Apparently, according to their new rules on stationary, colored paper is considered, and I quote, "A security risk." That's right, colored PAPER! The notice that was given to all inmates today said that the paper could be broken down and the dye from the colored paper could be used to pose a threat to security. Okay, for one, I doubt very seriously if anyone is going to dye a uniform with bright red or neon green paper. I can see it now: a guy escapes, running across the field in hot pink. The guy in the guard tower radios to someone, "I ain't sure if I'm seein' things fellas, but I believe I just seen me a tellatubby or somethin' running like a bat out of hell across that there field. Either that or we're being invaded by them damn homos!" It's freakin' ridiculous. They can't even justify it with a legitimate excuse. What? The dye can be used as tattoo ink? Do you realize how much paper it would take to get even an ounce? No inmate on earth is going to pay ten bucks for a ream of colored paper for an ounce of dye. No, it comes down to control and complacency on the part of inmates. Pathetic. Oh, and this rule was decided on in July. It goes into effect on October 1st. Of course they didn't tell us until three weeks before October. Sheesh.
Sometimes when you're irritated guards are aware of it and there are some who will try to push and poke at you. There's one particular guard working today who not even his own co-workers like working with because he's generally just a miserable soul. After I came back from recreation they pulled me out for a shower. I grab my stuff and a razor. I like to shower and shave at the same time and we usually get about 10-20 minutes in the shower.
I don't think it had been even five minutes when the guard comes back around as I'm shaving my head and pounds on the little glass window with his handcuffs. I turn and look out the window and yell over the water, "That's a little unnecessary!" I mean, he was hitting the window hard. I finish up and wipe the steam off of the Plexiglas and start to dry off really slow. I'm watching him as I do this and you could see that he was agitated. When I get out of the shower I tell him, "What's the rush? Whether you like it or not, you're stuck here until shift change." A scowl was the only reply I received.
Other than all the garbage it is a really lovely day. I should've tried to get outside.
September 5th, 2007
It's 6:19am, and I'm about to go outside. I was going to try to sleep in and skip recreation, but because all I did was toss and turn throughout the night I told myself, screw it; you'll never get back to sleep anyway. Oddly enough, right now I'm not even tired even after only getting probably two hours sleep total. Okay, gotta go. I shall return.
8:47am...I've just returned from recreation. It drizzled a little, but other than that it was mind clearing. While I was outside I received my first birthday gift - a Calvin and Hobbs collection that was really cool. I have some truly wonderful friends and I'm blessed for that. I can't hug them or go hang out with them, but I can let them know I'm appreciative and honored. It lets me know that I'm not ever completely alone in this place.
It's relatively quiet right now and I need a nap. Before it gets too loud I might write more later on. Does it ever end? My cell has sprung a leak and I'm taking on water! Aaaah! I can't take it anymore!
September 4th, 2007
I slept pretty well last night. Surprisingly my sleep did not get interrupted one single time until I woke up at 8:00am. I'm still a little down, but what can I do? I have no control over my brother or any other situation, so...
A funny incident happened today while I was out at recreation. Apparently a guard had misplaced a set of handcuff keys as they were picking up trays from lunch. This sent the guard into panic mode when he realized they were gone. A swarm of guards came into the pod and began looking everywhere. About forty-five minutes pass and a jerk of a sergeant says, "One of the offenders must have it. Strip out the inmates in the day rooms and lock the pod down." The guards begin to strip search each guy in each day room. I'm next up when one of the female guards goes to use the officer's restroom. She comes out and says, "I found the keys." The guard that lost the keys then remembered he had gone to wash his hands after picking up trays and left them on the basin. I tell the sergeant, "I guess you always assume us inmates are up to some sort of devious behavior, huh?" The sergeant scowls at me and walks off.
The sun is out right now, but it's supposed to rain again...
(Later that evening) It's raining now, realistically and metaphorically speaking. Rain…pouring down, pounding against my window, pounding against my heart, pounding, pounding, pounding until it breaks me apart. I'm so tired of the rain, of the fate of pain.
September 3rd, 2007
Today has been boring, rainy and depressing. My loneliness is pretty smothering today. I don't want to go into any details, but man, I feel like, you know when all you want to do is just cry on a shoulder, but there is no one there. I looked out my window and watched rain fall and thought, “God, it'd be nice to run out in that field as the rain falls down.” But I can't. I'm stuck in this God forsaken cell.
September 2nd, 2007
It's almost 4:00am. Rain in on the horizon as great thick ugly grey clouds are creeping into the area. I can see lots of horses out in a pasture. There are four or five really pretty horses among the others. One horse keeps wandering up to a group of other horses and when he gets close the others pull up ahead. What's up with that? Ha Ha.
I don't know why but today I feel so lonely. I can't explain it other than being in this cell with no one to talk to or anything to do and it really sucks.
So I'll add this useless information: new Cure album December 5th, a double disc.
September 1st, 2007
Today is the beginning of a new month and marks 12 days until I turn 30. Yikes. I didn't go to recreation today; I needed to catch up on some sleep. This past week has left me quite restless.
I wanted to write something I read recently from a book of wisdom. A man asks a Rabbi a question: "Something has been bothering me Rabbi…Slavery, wars, stealing land from Indians…how could all of these things happen in our country? I don't understand. Where was God?” The Rabbi thought for a second, then responded with a question of his own: "Where were people?”