September 2014 - 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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September 17th, 2014

There's a storm a brewing on good old Polunsky Unit. Some real funny business. A few years ago they started restricting us on our use of razors due to something someone did. Never mind the fact more staff assaults happen in General Population - and they can buy personal razors - than they do on death row. In fact, I'd say less than one percent of staff are assaulted yearly. Inmates are a bit different. Anyways, so we can now only shave in the shower, three times a week, on Sundays/Wednesdays/Fridays. Now, anyone who hasn't shaved since Sunday is going to look like Grizzly Adams by Wednesday. I mean, I look like I haven't shaved in a week with just two days worth of growth, never mind four...Well, today the ranking officers went around various pods writing cases for NOT SHAVING...One guy was on the way out to visitation, hadn't even had the chance to shave yet because he was at recreation when they got him for his visit, and the captain sees him in the hall way. "Write him up!" she is reported to have screamed at him. Well, there was an exchange of words between the two and by the time the guy returned from his visit guards had already showed up to his cell, taken all of his property and put him on discipline, also called Level 2. No kangaroo court, no due process, just wham, bam, thank you ma'am.  

Every now and then things get really laid back here. There's a nice rythm where the guards aren't messing with anyone and the inmates are relatively calm and complacent. Then, it is like someone gives an order to stir the bee hive and rile everyone up. It makes no sense to me. Why wouldn't you want a peaceful environment to work in? Why would try to shake things up when they're obviously working? This is one of those great mysteries of 18 years of incarceration. Someone  told me an interesting theory back here of why this is suddenly happening and I'm not one to give into conspiracy theories but it does kind of make sense. In recent months there's been a lot of discussion about giving death row prisoners and people in administation segregation more priveleges because of the concern of solitary confinement, and what it does to an individual. So, this guy said, "You know, I think they're trying to get people to go off so that they can justify treating us like animals..." Hmmmm. It does make you wonder. Could there be officials so spiteful that they would intentionally create a hostile environment so that they can say "See! This is why they shouldn't have this or that!" I don't know, but it is an interesting thought.

Today has been one of those blah kind of days...I went outside earlier this morning, got my butt kicked at basketball, came in, did some writing, had my shower, and shaved! Now I'm winding the day down with this entry and than I'm going to listen to the news. I've been keeping up with Scotland's vote to break away from the UK, and I find it all very interesting. Plus, the ISIS stuff in Syria, and Iraq. I typically listen to the news from about 4-7 P.M. at the end of the day. I prefer world news over local news because geeze, if local news doesn't make you want to throw yourself off of a bridge, I don't know what will! It's all death, weather, more death, then sports! Yay! I like to get away from firery auto crashes and who won yesterday's ball game! I'm more interested in the politics of world news. Scary? You bet! But for me, a bit more cerebral.


September 16th, 2014

As I'm writing this, I'm waiting to go outside. The past few days I've been ill, but I'll get through it. I always manage to do so. Actually, some sunshine might just be what the doctor ordered as I'm due to go outside and maybe play some basketball. If the guy that I'm scheduled to go outside with doesn't want to play I'll either practice my shot or just jog...not sure.

I'm up to about 32 miles a day now which is pretty freaking good considering in P.E. class I was that kid who was trailing behind everyone else when the couach would make us do laps. I'd get to that point where everyone else had passed me like two times and I'd say to myself " Awww screw it. I'm walking the rest in." Now I'm probably in better shape than I was back then....One one of the many ironies of prison.

I turned 37 on September 13th. I'm extremely grateful that I'm still on this planet and haven't had to utter my famous last words "So long and thanks for all of the fish" (an inside joke for nerds...). I honestly didn't think I'd make it this long and I do think it speaks volumes about the extreme luck and fortune I've had...For the longest time I was convinced that I was going to be dead by 32 and I've made it five years past. I don't know why 32 was the age I thought I was going to check out on...could be the palm reader that said "you'll be dead by 32" back in the summer of 1996 but I really don't believe in psychics 'cause that would be, uh, crazy...That is actually a true story. Some friends and I went to see a palm reader when we were tripping on LSD. I was told I had a short life line on my palm and I guess she was a former tree ring reader to have the skill set to determine that number. I had forgotten about that incident for years until I was awaiting my trial. It became a sort of self fulfilled prophecy to me.

So, there I was sitting in my cell at the newly minted age of 37 and I was hit with an overwhelming sadness that THIS is what has become of my life. I've spent the last half of my life locked up. I thought, what kind of 'life' is this? Why can't I wish it all away? Why can't I wake up and have it all be one bad dream - or even better be THE MATRIX. I just want to hit the reboot and start it all over. Do something right. Change one thing. It's scary to look back at your life and be able to pin the EXACT moment everything turned for the worst. To be able to say with certainty had I just gotten in that suburban with my dad and gone to Kroger's for groceries instead of waiting on the Taxi Cab To Hell...That I would've accepted my dad's gesture as an apology instead of being a stupid stubborn teenager...I can say with CERTAINTY I would not be sitting here typing this BS right now. This life I'm living would've never materialized.  It was that moment in time that forever changed the trajectory of my life. Yes, I believe that things happen for reasons there are too many coincidences in life that happen to convince me otherwise. I'm not exactly sure as to how I feel about life the universe, and everything, but I know that there's too much evidence at least in MY life to suggest otherwise. I can rationalize that thought process. This current path is what has made me who I am. Now. I accept that. Doesn't mean it doesn't suck and I wish I could change certain things.  

We went on lock-down at the beginning of September which was completely unexpected as it was 30 days early. Ever since the great cell phone scandal of '08 they've been putting us on lock down every 90 days to do a search for contraband and whatever...They typically only last about a week. General Population was scheduled for their annual lock-down so I suppose they decided to get death row as well. Even though our next 90 day period wasn't due until the first of October. It went by relatively painlessly. I didn't personally lose anything I wanted to keep in terms of property, so I have no complaints, really. Although, I will be upset if the rumors are true that they're going to put us back on lock-down in early October to keep things on a normal schedule. That will suck.

I've been reading a book called "The Brothers Karamazov", and I wanted to share a letter about Dostoevsky's life, and in particular a letter he published that was sent to his brother when he believed he was about to be executed. I was really moved by the letter itself. I could only wish to have an ouce of the strength, the spiritually he had.  And so I wanted to copy it here and share it with you:

"Today, December 22, we were driven to Semyonovsky Parade Ground. There the death sentence was read to us all, we were given the cross to kiss, swords wore broken over our heads, and our final toilet was arranged in white shirts. Then three of us were set against the posts so as to carry out the execution. We were summoned in threes; consequently I was in the second group, and there was not more than a minute left to live. I remembered you, my brother, and all yours; at the last minute, you alone, were in my mind, and it was only then that I realized how much I love you, my dearest brother! I also succeeded in embracing Pleshcheyev and Durov, who were beside me, and bade farewell to them. Finally the retreat was sounded, those who had been tied to the posts were lead back, and they read to us that His Imperial Majesty granted us our lives. There upon followed the actual  sentence...

Brother, I'm not depressed and haven't lost spirit. Life everywhere is life, life is in ourselves and not in the external [geeze, just typing this part out gets me all emotional...the strength in the words, the beautiful language used...] There will be people near to me, and to be a human being among human beings, and remain one forever, no matter what misfortunes befall, not to become depressed, and not to falter - this is what life is, herein lies its task. I have come to recognize this. This idea has entered into my flesh and blood. Yes, it's true! That had which been created, lived by the highest life of art, which acknowledged and had come to know the highest demands of the spirit, that head has been cut from my shoulders.

[Here, I get that he is saying that he has let go of the material, the things that have kept him tied to earth...not that they don't matter, but in a greater spiritual existence his 'head' isn't what makes him what he is... this next part is particulary beautiful]

Memory remains, and the images I have created and still not molded in flesh. They will leave their harsh mark on me, it is true! But my heart is left me, and the same flesh and blood which likewise can love and suffer and desire and remember and this is, after, life. On voit le soleil! Well, good-bye, brother! Do not grieve for me...Never until now have such rich and healthy stores of spiritual life throbbed in me.

This letter, these words do give me a certain strength. I'm hoping one day that I can have that same spiritual freedom that he found. I can be a very neurotic individual. I hope one day I can let go...


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