I heard on Friday's news that apparently Texas has so many execution drugs in stock they can just give stuff away to other states, and Texas has come to the aid of Virginia who now has three batches by courtesy of this great state! Now, I'm no expert on federal drug laws, FDA or DEA but it does beg a few questions...Why are the feds turning a blind eye to this practice?
I heard an interesting tactic being employed as a tool in the fight to end mass incarceration, and I was thinking that it could be applied to the practice of the death penalty. I think it has on some level, and I don't see how it couldn't go hand in hand...So, this guy was talking about inmate labor and how big corporations profit from inmate labor. It is an incentive to keep prisons filled up, obviously...The guy speaking on the program said that they tried legislation, they tried speaking to the politicians and it doesn't seem to be working, so now they're going to target the businesses who support these things. He mentioned Whole Food Markets, which honestly, I was a bit surprised about, but apparently inmates in other states do pick their fruits and vegetables. So, he announced that they would protest and drive customers away from one of their biggest stores in Austin...hit them in their pocket. It is a brilliant tactic and I believe the more people who get involved, the greater the effect. Now how does it apply to the DP? Simple. People begin to call ALL pharmacies and pharmaceutical companies. You ask a simple question: does your business support the application of the death penalty? If they can't give a clear cut answer, a straight NO, you boycott or protest. Protest, preferably. You just go from company to company. You call hospitals and doctors and say "This particular company refuses to give a straight forward answer on whether or not its drugs are used in the application of executions...Will you continue to support them?" DRIVE THE MONEY AWAY. I'm sure there are better and sharper minds out there who can expand on this thought, but I'm just putting it out there. It's the money people. It isn't about whether the death penalty is moral or not. Hell, I'd even try to talk to people who are so called "Tea Party" members. Ask them how is it a conservative principle to waste so much money? Show them the empirical evidence that it just flat out costs more money to kill someone than it does to keep them locked up.
We're still on lockdown. Two weeks now. This has been the longest one we've had in a while. Over the weekend there was some kind of water problem and they shut it off temporarily. For twelve building we had it on a few hours later, but I guess the rest of the prison was without. But today I think everything is back to normal because we had showers. They are also allowing us to make a small commissary purchase, not a full spend, but 25 dollars worth of stuff to hold us down until the lockdown is over. Better than nothing for sure.
I think that fall has arrived (I keep saying that only to get smacked upside the head the very next day with 90 plus degree temps...Freakin' Texas!) finally. Yesterday was a high of about 77 degrees F and today is just as cool. That being said, we've had some rain and it is very grey outside.
Just so everyone knows...It means the world to me that you read these journals. I'm not trying to be famous or popular...I could not care less about those things. But to have this outlet and a voice...that means more than you could ever know. Thank you!
September 25th, 2015
There's a song by U2 that I like to refer to a lot when the chips are down, and I feel sad, depressed and whatever...because I know the feeling of helplessness and hopelessness. I know the feeling of complete futility...The song is called "Stuck in a moment". I first heard this song after the escape when I was on the run; basically the song refers to being stuck in a storm...it's going to pass eventually. Life is like that; we go through cycles of good and bad, and I think it's how we perceive the storm that matters. If we wake up and one thing goes bad, and we immediately say "well, shit, it's going to be a bad day" isn't it usually the way it goes? You're kind of set in and expect a bad day. When you wake up and bad things happen and you say instead "Well, that sucked! But...I'm not going to let it ruin my day". Don't you usually end up having a decent day after all? Don't get me wrong, I'm guilty of the doom and gloom mindset...more times than I want to admit, but I keep on trying to look at things differently.
Today is another day on lockdown and no end is in sight. It's all good though and boy are they cleaning this place up! They came through recently with a power washer and hosed everything down back here top to bottom. I don't think our runs and dayrooms have been cleaned like that in years. Sure, they'll come through and mop, half ass wipe things down and even buff the floor with a buffer and steel brush, but they don't really clean...like, ever! When they power washed the floors the other day the water was black...like BLACK and thick as mud. It was gross to see. Being a bit of a clean freak I cringed as the water was pushed into the drains. I mean, I drag books and snacks across that floor...Ugh!
I kind of like some of the things this new administration is doing. For example, it used to be if you were in a messed up cell, say the toilet broke, or your sink didn't work properly, you were just shit out of luck until they fixed it. It was damn near impossible to get it fixed or get moved. You would wait for days for maintenance to get to your cell. Well, this new Major is having things fixed, doing preventive maintenance and such as top priority, and if for whatever reason maintenance is tied up and can't get to your cell, well the Major has told his other officers to move the inmate to a working cell immediately...An example - a week or two ago a guy had some black mold growing from a crack in the wall. I guess the moisture and humidity got into the crack and bloomed from there. Under any previous administration and any other Major they would've said "What do you want us to do about it? Just wipe it off..." But no, this Major said "Yeah...that's not acceptable. Go ahead and pack your shit up and we'll get you into another cell". Just like that. Of course, there are inconveniences...like now when anyone is moved they take us to a cell and while we are waiting they search and x-ray our property, but hey, if you've got nothing to worry about it isn't a big deal. You might wait 15-20 minutes to get your stuff back. A small trade off to be treated semi-decently. I mean, this new Major, from what I can tell hasn't made any hard pushes to get the officers to mess with us like some did previously. And outside of having to keep your cell in compliance or order...so what? I'll do what I need to do just don't screw with me. It's all cool.
September 23rd, 2015
Still on lockdown. Rumor is that it will be for another week or so. That's fine with me 'cause I'm enjoying the peace and quiet! I woke up this morning, said a prayer for Yom Kippur and asked forgiveness of those I've wronged and to go forward in this new year to be stronger and better...We had showers and so I went to wash and shave and have been writing most of the morning. I'm just about done with the His Dark Material books...should finish it up this afternoon. This is silly, but close to the end of the second book "The Subtle Knife", I was in tears over one line...A little information on the book without spoiling it though...In the second book a new character, a young teen named Will is introduced. Will is from our world (throughout the series there are multiple worlds and universes...a kind of hint at string theory and multiuniverses) while the main character, a young girl named Lyra is from another world that is similar to ours but there are minute differences, like our souls for example. Their souls are called daemons and take the shape of animals that reflect their self...or their "shadow self" (reference in psychology and philosophy). Our daemons, or souls are on the inside of us...Circumstances throw the two together when the fabric of the universe is ripped open and Lyra and Will meet in another world that is also similar to both of their worlds...Will was on a quest to find his father, whom he grew up without ever knowing, and when he finally does meet up with him, he is killed (the father that is) before they are able to realize that each is father and son...It was this line that got me: "What he couldn't say was that he longed for his father as a lost child yearns for home". Ugh...I know exactly that feeling and it made me only miss my own father even more.
So, with Yom Kippur today and the striving towards something greater within and beyond myself...I realize that once again I do need to make some adjustments in my life and self. I think it has been one of the reasons I've felt more content keeping to myself for the past week or so. Hopefully they'll lead me to something greater in understanding...I'm feeling very contemplative right now. I'm not particulary religious, that feeling of oneness and closeness with G-d that I had as a kid eludes me, but I ran across an interesting prayer by a Catholic saint - Saint Francis - and while not a Catholic and knowing very little about Catholicism as a whole, I still felt that there was a truth in this particular prayer:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love,
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
September 22nd, 2015
I woke up to the most amazing sunrise this morning. My cell walls, which are surprinsingly white and graffiti free - a rarity for most cells, believe me...were bathed in a soft pink glow. I wiped the sleep from my eyes and stood up on my bed, looking out my window. Much of the sky in front of me was turning from a navy blue, shaking off the remaining blanket of night to a lighter blue. Out on the horizon a chemtrail streaked horizontally across the sky cutting it open like a can opener. But it was to the right of me that the sky was awash in a orangish-violet hue. The sun rising like burning bright, G-d announcing its presence to the world. Here I am in all of my glory. I give you the light you need. I give you the strength and energy. I am the sun...The ring around the sun glowed a bright pink. It was a sight to see...
Another day of lockdown and no one knows how long it will carry on. From what I've heard they're shaking down D-pod today and that will be the end of 12 building (the building that houses Ad-Seg and death row). They still have most of general population to search which could translate to another week or two more, but right now we're in the speculation and rumor zone as no one knows if this administration will go ahead and lift the lockdown for 12 building or keep us on it. In my opinion I believe we will stay down if only because they need to send some of the 12 building officers off of the building and into general population for extra hands to expediate the process. But you never know. At least we had a shower and were able to shave last night.
Man...my neighbor is getting on my nerves! I'm trying to be patient with him but he calls me every five minutes to ask a question or to do this or that. Really annoying! I'm sitting on my bed reading or writing and trying to focus my thoughts on it and then he'll call me. I go to the door, answer his question and then argh!!...he's doing it again! Sometimes I feel like he's doing it to annoy me...I keep telling him "Okay, gonna get back to this book" or whatever I'm doing at the moment. I really try to be accomodating and patient, but right now I really just want to be left alone to my own thoughts...
Besides reading the trilogy I'm reading, I went over my recently filed appeal response and I do have to say that it was really well written. The state, in my opinion has little to hang their hat on other than I was there, I escaped, my initial crime for which I have the utmost regret, remorse and self hatred for...worse thing ever and if anyone ever feels I don't then you couldn't be further from the truth. It's difficult to forgive myself, even when I know deep down inside of my own heart and soul - my own psyche - that I had little control over myself at that period in my life. I was a shell of a person.
The other thing is my tendency to lie during those years...I look back and wonder why and I think it comes down to the fact I truly didn't know who I was...I think from the period of 13 to probably 25 years old I was just lost and trying to figure out where I fit in this world. I never felt like I had an identity, if that makes sense. And then I had the problem of lying to get out of perceived messes I was in and inevitably would just lead to bigger messes...It wasn't until coming to death row that I looked inward, began to sift through the BS and FIND myself. At a certain point, even though I do care about what people think at times, I had to stop caring about what people thought of me. I realized that just being me and embracing the flaws I have, along with my problems and faults, felt like the right way to live. I want to strive to be better and fix the things I can. I'm tired of being all neurotic over the things I can't control...It's hard, because I'm insanely neurotic and feel like my world's ending when I lose control over something. I can say with absolute truth, that throughout my life, I've never intended to hurt someone emotionally or even physically. Sometimes the road to hell is paved with good intentions...Being impulsive and reactive has always been my biggest problem...But I look back and I've said it before: who among us is the same person they were when they were 18 or 23 or 30 or 35? I'm 38 and while I see certain similarities of my 18 and 23 year old self, I'm definitely NOT the same person. All you have to do is read my journals back to 2005 or so...
Yom Kippur is tomorrow and part of that is seeking forgiveness for those you've wronged and such. If I could go to each person I ever lied to or betrayed intentionally or unintentionally, I would, and if there's anyone out there who knew me, and I haven't been in touch with you, I'm deeply sorry. I have so many regrets and remorse in life. I don't understand how some people say they have no regrets...Really? So, admittedly you have made no self evolution, no progress in your own life? Because I feel that the only way to grow and be better is by having regrets and remorse...
September 21st, 2015
A week on lockdown...Not that I mind. I can't speak for general population or even Ad-Seg, but a lockdown on death row is when it is at it's most peaceful. Everyone sleeps in really late and the noise level never gets to that incessant drone that a typical non lockdown day can get to. In the past week I've kept pretty isolated. I haven't really felt like being very talkative or social. By nature I'm an introvert anyways so it suits me. Sometimes when I'm uber social I just feel fake and uncomfortable. Don't get me wrong, I love the time spent with friends I can goof around with, but I'm more than comfortable being inward and inside of my own head.
I've been mostly reading, working my way through the "His Dark Materials" trilogy and I'm just as amazed and astounded with the language of the book and the subject matter, as I was the very first time I read the book. Phillip Pullman uses the guise of "fantasy" to pull the reader into heavier subject matter such as religion, God, free will and science. If I could describe it in simple terms it is Pullman's answer to "The Chronicles of Narnia"...whereas C.S. Lewis used fantasy and analogy as a way to introduce readers to Christianity, Pullman wants his readers to question those very ideas. I mean, anyone who starts a novel with an excerpt from Paradise Lost is pulling you into something interesting. I think the more interesting concept about the book is the way it makes you think about free will, and consciousness...where does it come from? Is it divine in nature or is it something that any creature can attain? I mean, look at nature...We know for a fact that Homo Sapiens aren't the only species that has self awareness. My friend Robert spends a great deal of his day watching birds outside of his window, and strongly believes that they are at a level of higher consciousness than humans are. I mean, being smart humans doesn't necessarily equate to a higher state of awareness. Birds aren't constrained the way we are; they don't have the self made worries that human have. We spend a great deal of our time on this planet worrying about stupid things like how to pay the phone bill...Humans kill one another not from a state of nature or survival, but instead just because we can...That doesn't sound like a very evolved state of thinking. Birds are free to go wherever, whenever they want. Their only limitation is that of food...And so, normally a naturally fast reader, I'm really pouring over these books. Taking my time. Thinking, wondering...
I had an interesting memory pop up today...I was brushing my teeth and suddenly I was about five years old and in my childhood foster home. Now, I'd been in a couple of foster homes by this time, but I was a bit more settled in this one. I was reunited with my brother, Wesley and it was just a matter of time before the adoption social workers would find us a permanent family. Or so I hoped. My memory is a bit foggy about where exactly we were but I remember being in the Dallas area, away from the urban sprawl, out in the country somewhere. I remember lots of land, gravel roads and scorpions...a load of scorpions. They were small and an almost translucent yellowish color. They inhabitated spaces everywhere and you always had to be careful. I remember being told to always shakeout my shoes and never walk around barefooted. But who tells a kid not to run around the country barefooted? We were careless and carefree.
There's something special about being a child...little worries, curiousity of every little thing. In some ways a kid touches on the precipice of divinity and holiness; for a child, curiousity isn't the same as it is for an adult. A child's questions aren't filled with the cynicism and doubt an adult has. There is a wide eyed wonder and innocence shining brighter than the brightest sun in the universe. I can remember the level of imagination and creativity I had growing up, and sometimes I wonder to myself, where the hell did it go? I mean, I was the kid who truly believed that if I thought about it hard enough I could build, with some help of course, a working prototype of the Proton Pack used to battle ghosts in Ghost Busters! I would start my own business fighting ghosts. When I first watched the movie "The Explorer", I set out, with my best friend Chad, to build a workable spaceship...I wanted to create the little invisible force field bubble that would take us to the heavens. When I watched the movie "Monster Squad", Chad and I once again set out to fight the Wolfman and Frankenstein's monster ourselves...My imagination was so wild and extravagant that I wonder if it wasn't in itself, its own defense mechanism against the real life monsters in the world.
But back to the foster home...Down the gravel road some distance, was a house with a girl about the same age as me. I don't know how we met, but I remember during that summer we were very close. I remember running through the woods and sitting in the yard drinking ice cold lemonade her mother made for us. In the evening, if I didn't have to go back home I'd sit in their living room watching Wheel of Fortune with her. A particular memory that makes me smile to this day and makes me think that, wow, Randy, you've always been the hopeless romantic type, full of huge romantic gestures, was when we went to some kind of country club. I don't know if it was on a golf course or what, I just remember the actual club house with a dining area and a swimming pool with a slide. Me and the little girl spent the day swimming (I was eager to show off my newly learned aquatic skills) and going down the slide. Sometime in the evening we went into the dining area and had dinner. In the distance there was a television airing an episode of Wheel of Fortune and I turned to the little girl and grabbed her hand. "One day I'm gonna buy you that dress!" Because back in the day, Vanna White was known for how beautiful and elegant her dresses were...
Sometimes, like this morning, I wonder who the little girl was and where she is now. I wonder if she remembers anything about me, or if she shares the same innocent memories that I have floating around my head. Life...
Well, who knows what the rest of the week shall bring. I'm going to do some other writing and get this entry into the mail.
September 16th, 2015
I'm sorry that I've not posted anything in a couple of weeks...I've just been so busy with other stuff and trying to get everything in order for the shakedown that we all knew was coming...Well, it did...I was scheduled for rec, and as I was walking around in the dayroom, the control picket officer called for the guards working the pod to come to the window, and I heard her say "Lock everything down; rack the dayrooms up...no showers". Now I wasn't sure if this would turn into a false alarm because on Saturday the 12th they shut everything down due to a shortage of workers/guards. So I asked the guard working the pod, "Is this a false alarm or the real deal?" He said it was the real deal and so I yelled out for everyone to hear: "LOCKDOWN! THIS ISN'T A HOAX...IT'S THE REAL DEAL!!!"
I did manage to have a good birthday on Sunday, though. I'm near some friends, fortunately, and so we made tacos and my neighbor made some kind of cream cake...Now, I'm sure you're raising an eyebrow on that one, but it tasted like the real deal. He used powdered milk, packets of cream cheese and made the crust out of crushed cookies. I was impressed! I guess it's the same principle as those no-bake cakes you can buy.
I had some pretty decent news appeals wise, and I have some renewed hope. At the very least, if things go as planned, I'm hoping it will slow the process down, give my attorney some breathing room (and me!) and it won't be as stressful as it has been the last year or so. I need prayers and lots of hope for sure...It's an uphill battle...Gotta keep the good vibes flowing. I'm happy with what was filed and we'll see how it all develops.
I have a lot of things to write about topic wise, and will do over the coming days...Right now, however, I'm just focused on getting this shakedown out of the way. If things move at the pace they're on, they'll be on this pod tomorrow. Fun!
To be continued...
September 1st, 2015
I woke up this morning a bit sad, missing my family. I guess writing or re-writing some of my life just floods me with memories. I really miss them. I started my day as I typically do and then I climbed on my bunk and watched the sunrise...There was a light fog rolling through as well and made everything look ethereal and other worldly. At the front of the prison, off in the distance, is an orange and white checkered water tower. The fog barely covered it, but it did make it look like something out of a fantasy movie. The sky above was filled with ribbons of light blue and violet...Clouds skirting across the horizon as if they were ghosts being chased by some unknown presence. Whenever I'm looking at the sunset or sunrise I'll stand there and meditate. Sometimes I'll achingly wish I was out there, free to move around of my own volition. Free to smell the air, feel the grass. It shoots sharp pains through my body just how much I miss that kind of freedom. This morning I stood there thinking of my own spirituality and how I really want to reconnect with it, with something higher. I started doubting and turning against it a few years ago, after going through the ringer emotionally. I started seeing how people use their "beliefs" of God or religion to justify their own biases and bigotries and it just irked me to pieces! I was sick of it...
I'm not really a person who believes in signs or things of that nature. Have I been guilty of seeing more into something than is really there? Sure. I think we all do it. But recently, I've been seeing SO much and it's hard for me to separate the rational from the irrational. I fear I'm falling victim to my own confirmation bias. But...I do want to believe. I want to believe there's more to this existence. That this life, whatever our experiences may be for better or worse, are for a reason greater than us. Recently a Rabbi reached out to me, and it came suddenly out of the blue and right before Rosh Hashanah, no less...He mentioned an interest in visiting me and I was ecstatic. To possibly point me in the right direction to answer my own questions of why...Why this life? Why are each of us given completely different experiences and struggles? Why do crappy people sometimes seem to be given everything and those who are truly good souls have it so rough? All sorts of questions. I'm open to the answers, though. I'm getting back to a place or wanting to go back to a place I haven't been in years.