September 2018 - 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 30th, 2018

Yaaaay!  The last day of this cursed month...Good riddance September! Well, I  can't say that it was a complete bust, but man, towards the end...Oh  well.  So, my possessed radio's clock turned back on last night and  stayed on...Just strange. I've had some things go wonky on me before,  but there is really no rhyme or reason to this.

I  woke up this morning because they were doing showers. I guess it was  close to six, and when I got back to my cell, I slept in until 9 this  morning. I did feel a bit better and more positive, hoping for the best  this week. I started my day, wrote my chick, and did my laundry. Well,  around 11.20ish, this female guard came by and noticed a wire that I was  running to the guy who was letting me listen to his radio...complicated  to explain, but no guard sweated it yesterday, and most don't care as  long as when we leave our cells, the wire isn't in the walkway. I was  honest with her and explained my radio situation...I expected her to  say, "Okay," and just walk on by. Instead she said, "Give me the radio."  Then I said, "What? Are you for real?" I couldn't read her face. It  wasn't like an asshole face, it was just "matter of fact"...Very  serious. She told me to give it to her again. Now at this point I'm  fuming...Really upset. I mean, this is my sanity, and I even said that  to her. Music, a connection to the outside world through news etc...I  was not happy. But I didn't want to risk getting into trouble, and I  have some visits coming up, so I couldn't put up a fight...But I was angry!

About  12.20pm they started passing out the lunch sacks (fish patty and  pb&j...blech!) and the same female guard hands me two sacks. At  first, I'm thinking it was an extra that maybe someone else didn't want  and said to give it to me. As I was walking away from the door she said,  "I went to the property room and grabbed you a loan radio. When you get  your new one, you'll need to turn that one in and in the same condition  I gave it to you." I opened the bag and was floored! It was a loaner, usually the loan radios are for people who are indigent or  used to replace something that a guard broke...I just couldn't believe  it, and I instantly felt awful for being so upset! I thanked her a  thousand times and just couldn't believe the kindness of the act. She definitely did not have to do that! Kindness comes in a thousand forms  and in the most surprising of places and situations. It should be a  lesson, and I will definitely "pay it forward."

I'm hoping that was a good sign of things to come.

Something  else I wanted to write about and show my gratitude for is those who  stand and protest against the executions taking place in Huntsville. I  cannot imagine the emotional toil it can take on the heart and soul to  have to go to each one, but I can say that I'm personally thankful and wish more people would show their support as well. Numbers get  attention, and when more people start showing up, maybe the media and  the State will say, "something needs to change" I don't know. I just  wanted to say thanks for being out there, whoever you all are, and it  means the world to many of us back here. Thanks to all!

Here's to hoping that October rocks, and is a wonderful month full of good things, and a lot of love!

Hold onto...Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.


September 29th, 2018

This  horrible week has come to an end!!! It has just been one awfully  stressful week...Between my own life, two consecutive executions - one  of which I was almost certain would get a stay - the shake down yesterday and losing my hotpot, and later that evening my radio just  going completely dead on me...I can't take much more before I just  succumb to an emotional meltdown!!!

Before  I talk about yesterday's events, I do want to kind of clarify what I  said about Kavanaugh recently, and believing him...After I'd written  about him, I struggled with what I wrote because I want to be absolutely  clear that I wasn't siding with him. Any victim should always be given  the attention and investigation that is needed in any case - especially  when it comes to sexual assault etc. I do believe that politics have  muddied the waters and I also know that a person is innocent until  proven guilty, and we are very quick to judge and condemn in this  society without knowing the facts. There are always two sides to every story...I think where my confusion has come from is hearing someone say  they are innocent - with a certain desparation in their voice - and I  filtered it through to my own experience. Regardless of what anyone  believes one way or the other, there is enough doubt to withdraw his nomination. I have never believed he should've been on the Supreme Court  based purely on my own views and liberal philosophy - he was too  political in the first place...having gone after the Clintons in the '90s, working in the Bush Administration in the '00s, and following his very own comments about the charges being brought against him being some  sort of revenge for the Clintons in the 2016 elections...All of these things should've immediately excluded him as a potential Justice.

Anyway,  our shakedown was yesterday...For whatever reason, they only did F and E  section on C-Pod, and they did my section (E section) at around 2pm  yesterday. I really didn't expect them to take anything except maybe  some art type crafts I had someone make for my girlfriend, but other than that I was pretty much in compliance. I don't like clutter and I'm not a pack rat, so except for things that have an emotional value or  essentials, I don't really keep things. When I receive books and  magazines, I generally pass them off to people who want to read them, or  try to donate them to the library...although that in no way means it will necessarily hit the shelves...sometimes the inmates who work in the  library take off with them. All the same, these things get an extra bit  of life, I suppose.

Because  it was our shower day, we could take our shower stuff with us, so I   had my razor, soap, boxer shorts and a towel with me. I took my time  showering and then an hour later they brought us back to our cells. Upon  first glance, my cell looked quite the mess! Things were strewn all  over the place...I don't know which guard searched my cell, but it  looked like a tornado had blown through. In the last shakedown during  the summer, everything was stacked nice and neat...I took a deep breath  (you can't come out good every time!...) scanned my cell, saw that my  radio and fan were in their place, but I noticed my hot pot was gone...Now, I can't blame anyone but myself because it has been through  the ringer, and I had jumped the thermostat so it would get hotter than  it's designed to...It's the only way of really cooking anything.  Otherwise, barely hot water just doesn't cut it! Most guards know this  and kind of "turn a blind eye" and don't sweat it, but hey...again, you  can't with them all.

I  cleaned up my cell and settled in, listened to the news and just  chilled out for the rest of the afternoon. I was exhausted by the time  the Prison Show came on, but I listened to it, then tried to get to  sleep. Even though I was really tired, I just tossed and turned and  decided I'd listen to Seth Meyers. I went to put the radio on and it was  dead...nothing! I thought something was maybe loose, so I fiddled with  it, and then the FM and AM were out! I messed with it until 1 in the morning and just gave up...the cheap piece of crap died on me...I did  try to fiddle with it today as well, but still...dead air. But hey! The clock works...I suppose whenever the lockdown is over with I will try to get a new one...and a new hot pot. I tell you what, though...when my  luck is on it is's firing on all cylinders and everything just  falls into place, but when it's is just bad event after bad event. The Stoics teach us to always expect bad things, that way you  won't be surprised - actually, not to "expect" things to happen, but to  know that inevitably they will, and we should be mentally/spiritually  prepared for when they do...I definitely need to work on that!

Well, here's to hoping next week is a little better!

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith!


September 27th, 2018

Today has been one of those whirlwind of emotions kind of day...From  listening to the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, receiving our red crates in  preparation for a possible shake down, to the execution of a potentially  innocent man – and the second of two back to back executions...nuts!

So, today I listened to a hearing on the potential Supreme Court  appointment of Brett Kavanaugh. It got to me a bit more than I expected,  and I thought about how I wanted to write about it...not going into it with an opinion, but rather speaking from experience. I think what I'm going to say will not be popular, and I had to think about how to  properly articulate myself...I believe the accuser...I believe she experienced some kind of assault and life long trauma because of it. It could've been Brett Kavanaugh, and if he's appointed to the Supreme Court we may never really know...I get angry when I listen to conservative radio and they disparage and demean the accuser, and I  think there should've been a bit more investigation before anything  moved forward.  

I want to preface what I'm about to say next with the fact that  politically, I swing to the left. I consider myself a pretty hard core  liberal - not extremist, but definitely left of center. My views don't  jive with Brett Kavanaugh's political and probably judicial philosophy,  and I don't want to see him appointed. But here's where people will get  angry...What I'm going to say is purely based on my own experiences, and because of those experiences, I found myself believing him...I could feel his helplessness in his own words whenever he said, “I did not do this.” Or, “I am innocent of these charges.” When people are throwing accusations at you and they aren't true, there is a feeling...I can only  describe it as a drowning feeling...You're thrashing about, screaming  out, and no one is listening. No one will come to your aid. Do I believe  he was a saint in high school? No...Most of us weren't. I'm sure he did  some questionable things. I also know the feeling of people taking  things way beyond their context or weaponising tasteless jokes and  behaviours against you.  

Listening to the hearing and the democratic Senators referring to  statements written in yearbooks, or things he said as a teen, or what he  wrote in a calendar...I went through the very same thing in my own trial. Little substance spent on the actual crime itself, but instead, using letters, jokes, and even cartoons I'd created as some kind of  “proof” that I was a horrible human being. And when I'd try to defend myself or explain what any of these things meant, it was thrown back at  me as blame shifting, or showing no remorse...Listening to him, I was  having flashbacks of being in the same position when I was on the stand,  and it just made me shake and relive those moments...

I can't say one way or the other if he did or didn't do it, but we live  in a country where we're supposed to be innocent until proven guilty.  This doesn't mean that we discredit the accuser and say her claim isn't valid...Our hearts and compassion should go out to her. And if the incident did happen with Kavanaugh, I believe that he either truly  doesn't recall it, or he has convinced himself that it didn't happen.  Again, we'll never know...But I find myself believing him.   

I also have a problem with society ruining whole lives based on actions  that happened in a person's life when they were in their teens, or even  their early 20s, no matter how horrific the event might be - it's not an indicator of who that person will be 10 or 20 years down the line. I'm not the same person I was at 18, or 23, or even 30 years old! If  science has shown us that the brain isn't fully developed until around 25 years old, and we claim to believe in the power of redemption, why do  we then, as a society, cast those young people out onto the dung heap?

All that being said, if Kavanaugh is appointed to the Supreme Court, I  hope the process has been a learning experience for him. If he is truly  innocent of these accusations, then it will be interesting to see how he  looks at cases where people are truly innocent (or before the Court on appeal) because it should allow him the insight to be more fair and  empathetic to the innocence cries of others...If anything good can come  out of this, it will be that he is more balanced and insightful in his  judgements.   

Anyway, at around 4pm they brought the red crates around for us to pack  our property into for the shake down, which I'm assuming will be  tomorrow. It's weird but they always seem to get C-Pod done on a Friday,  or Monday...I just hope it isn't that bad! I just want to get it over with. I'm packed up and ready to go...

Today, Daniel Acker was also executed...I've known him for a while,  though not on any kind of personal level, but we did have some  conversations. I've heard his story and it has always been the same...He  was no saint, but I do believe him when he said he didn't murder his girlfriend, nor was it his intent for her to die...There's a strong  chance that today, Texas has executed an innocent man, and I hope it  will be revealed, should someone decide to investigate  post-execution...Another of those “we may never know” circumstances.

It's been a long day...An emotional day...but another day that I find  strength in the friends and the chick this dude loves...I'm a very  fortunate guy – more fortunate than I deserve.  

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith!


September 25th, 2018

I  have to start this out today by letting my special chick know that I  adore her, and I'm so grateful for everything she does to keep me in  this fight...Sometimes we don't always do things perfectly, and we don't  always have the right words to say...We stumble, we fumble, and we  screw-up, but all of this...this journal, this beautiful website, and  the spark to my recent writings and creativity, is all because of  HER...And so, I want to thank her and tell her I love her...

I  started off the day as I usually do, and then I had a surprise legal  visit. It went really well, and I'm so fortunate and blessed to have the  people I have representing me, fighting so hard for me, and most importantly, believing in me. They inspire hope in me, and strengthen my will to do good and pay it forward. I'm very fortunate.

The  gossip mill has it that things are speeding up on the shakedowns, and  that the warden has seemingly eased up on the ruthlessness a bit. Of  course, this is a different crew of guards so it could change again in a  couple of days on a new shift...We'll see...They should be on C-Pod tomorrow (the pod I've been on since last December!) and start shaking  down, but there are two back to back executions happening this week, and  they have a way of derailing the process. I'm thinking that the guy due  to be executed on Thursday could get a stay...He's got a really strong innocence claim...We'll see. I'm ready to rock 'n' roll with the  shakedown and get it out of the way!

On  the way back from my legal visit, this female guard was talking to  another escorting officer, and often they'll talk over the inmate as if  he doesn't exist, and I'll soak up their conversation. Well, apparently  the female was upset that some people were celebrating in cosplay (where people dress up as their favorite comic/manga/movie characters) at a  park that she takes her son to...Her exact words were, "As soon as I saw  them weirdos, I grabbed my son and left!...They could've been a group  of paedophiles!" Now, I've never done cosplay, but I do fancy myself a  bit of a dork, and it offended me that she would say such an ignorant thing...So, I said, "It must suck." To which she replied, "Yeah, it  does...It makes no damn sense..." I said, "No, it must suck to live your life being afraid of things you don't understand." And that, sadly,  seems to be the way American life is becoming...That fear and ignorance  of people, religions, customs, culture...Things we don't understand but  we need not be afraid of learning about...I wish people would start  opening their minds more.

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.


September 24th, 2018

Ever  had a dream that you were talking about music with Rod Stewart, or  having an in depth conversation about movies with Gal Gadot? Well, for  some odd reason, I did...What the hell is wrong with me?

Anyway,  I woke up this morning and started my day by working out, then I wrote  to my love and got busy on chapter 10 of my memoir, "Falling Down." I  actually started chapter 11, but will finish that up tomorrow. I also  have three new poems ready to roll out...They were harder than others to write because they started off kind of stream of consiousness, then I  shaped them up.  It took some time to get them just as I wanted, but  they're as good as they'll get now, so off they go to be posted up on my  website - check them out under the tab, "Poems/Lyrics," sub-tab, "New  Poems for 2018".

I  don't know if people are following my new memoir, but I've been having  each chapter posted up on the website as I finish it, and I am easily  picturing this taking shape into a whole book! I have at least 20 chapters planned, and I'm just writing them as I go, but when I get my  head into that "space" all kinds of forgotten memories pop up and I want  to write about this or that...So, there may be even more than 20 chapters by the time I've finished! Still, that part of my life is very important in leading to where I am today...I don't know if it aplies to a lot of lives or just a few, but there is a very visible single thread. Where some lives are full of branches, I see mine as having started off  with many tree limbs, but they soon fell off, and there was one long,  gnarly and twisted branch left...My hope is that the tree of my life will once again produce beautiful and healthy limbs, and lots of them!

Well,  I think most of us back here are wondering if this warden is just  bored, and seeing how many new rules he can put into place...The latest  is a kind of dumb because not everyone back here can actually afford a  commissary cup and the kitchen/guards never provide a cup or eating utensils for us to use. So, all we have is either a commissary cup or  maybe a peanut butter jar or something, if a guy can get one from  another inmate. Well, he's now said the only way we're to get juice,  coffee, or milk, is via a proper cup. But again, the kitchen doesn't provide cups like they're supposed to, so what are the guys without supposed to use...their hands? It's ridiculous!

Apparently,  last week as they were shaking down A-Pod, he was ordering officers to  take "unstored" legal work, which is also a violation of policy. If  you are a guy who has been going through the appeals process for many,  many years, the chances are you have mountains of legal material like  letters, filings and rulings - heck, a trial transcript can be thousands  upon thousands of documents! When I first came to death row, I had so  much stuff it could've filled up the back of a truck bed. A lot of it  was ruined in various cell floodings and general damage from being moved  around so often, but there are guys who can fill up whole buggies full  of legal work. Where are we supposed to store it? It's protected by the courts, so where does the guy get off in telling his officers to  confiscate it?

The  follow up - just came down the gossip mill right now - is that he was  ordered to return the legal work back to the guys he took it from.

Well, I'm still holding onto hope, tightly!!! I need those positive vibes!

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.


September 23rd, 2018

I'm  sitting here on a Sunday afternoon, the first official day of fall – my  favourite season, I should add. I'm looking out of my little window,  the sky is grey, and in the distance to the left of my view, there are some buildings, and a tree line on the horizon. The trees are swaying ever so gently in the light and cool breeze I imagine is blowing  outside...What wouldn't I give to go for a walk outside right about  now?...Oh, the things we take granted, huh?

I woke up this morning at about 5.45am for a shower – normally during the  lock-down we only get showers on a Monday/Wednesday/Friday, so I was a  bit surprised that we got one today. When I asked the guard why they  were doing showers today he said they wanted to get an early start to the shakedowns tomorrow. I thought, “yeah...THAT won't happen...” but it  was still nice to get a shower! When I returned to my cell I listened  to a program called, “On Being.”  It's a spiritual program that covers philosophy, and the practice of well being and mindfulness...not the new  age goobley goo nonsense, but in depth conversations with some of the  great thinkers and compassionate people of our time.

After the program, I want back to sleep. I didn't expect to sleep until  9.30am but that is what happened! I jumped up, drank my coffee, wrote to  my love, and put on TNT to listen to “Pete's Dragon” - the remake of  the Disney classic. I listened to it last night, going into it very sceptically. I'm not a  big fan of remakes because they often don't get  them right – they actually get them very wrong! Disney, however, has  been on a creative roll with their live action remakes of a lot of their animated classics from Sleeping Beauty (Maleficent), Jungle Book,  Cinderella etc...I've been very impressed with what I've listened to thus far and the remake of the original “Pete's Dragon” had gotten  really good reviews when it hit the theaters, so I had high hopes...The original was a favourite of mine growing up. The mix of animation (Elliot the Dragon) and live action was amazing, and Pete's interaction  with Elliot threw my imagination into overdrive! The movie was also a  musical, and I loved the song and dance numbers...I knew that this wasn't a “straight on” remake - in fact, the only similarity with the  original was Pete and Elliot...That was it! Yet, it was BRILLIANT!!! The movie made me laugh, and it made me cry several times too! I couldn't SEE the movie, but my imagination took over. It had the feel of a  classic '80s adventure movie, and the musical score was breathtaking,  and beautiful. The folksy tunes that fuelled the movie were wonderful...I really loved it, and it sparked the feelings of wonder and  being a child all over again. To borrow a line from the movie, it made  me "feel the magic.”

Anyway,  like I said, before I ever heard of the movie I had read the reviews  and they were mostly good...except for a couple saying it was overtly  “manipulative” in pulling at the heart strings. I thought, as I was  listening, isn't that what movies are supposed to do? Isn't that their  purpose? The fact that you watch something in that moment – and suspend  disbelief – IS manipulative...It's supposed to be! A good movie makes  you believe in it...It can make you scared, it can give you thrills, it can leave your jaw on the floor with fanciful feasts of visual effects. It can make you cry! That is what a good movie does! Of course, movies  are manipulative...Any kind of art is...Anyway, check it out!

The  rumor mill has it that the new warden is being an absolute tyrant on  this shakedown...Telling officers to write cases for the smallest of  things, and in general creating chaos amongst the inmates. To put it  into perspective, for the past couple of years the discipline pod –  F-Pod death row side – has stayed nearly empty, with just a couple of  guys down there at any given time. It went from housing a couple of guys  to being completely full under this new warden! Surely, the administration in Huntsville would see the sudden spike in cases that  send guys to F-Pod, and wonder what the heck was going on? But so far,  he's getting away with it...There was an incident on another unit where  the warden and ranking officers were involved in a quota system for  bogus disciplinary cases. An email was leaked, the news exposed the  illegal scheme, and the State fired those involved and said it wouldn't happen again...Apparently, this new warden didn't get the memo! Out of  sight, out of mind, I suppose...

Oh's out of our control!

Here's to hoping for a good week, and a beautiful Autumn...

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith!


September 19th, 2018

I  woke up this morning fully expecting to go to recreation...I skipped  breakfast because I'm fasting for Yom Kippur, and whilst technically  recreation (and writing this) could be defined as "work," I was certain that G-d wouldn't be upset that I wanted to get out of my cell.

So,  the 1st shift officer came around at 5.30am, setting up the rec.  schedule, and he asked me if I was going...I said, "yes." Then he told  me, "First round, F-section." I kicked off my sheet, rolled out of bed, brushed my teeth, said my prayers, and began a letter. Whilst I was writing, another guard yelled out, "No recreation. You guys are on  lock-down." I didn't believe it as that particular officer has been  known to be a prankster! Then, they said they were going to do showers  only. When he said that I was certain we weren't on lockdown as we don't  get showers for that first 72 hours...(which I have never understood!)

So,  they started doing showers and then a ranking officer came through and  confirmed that we were on lockdown, and that they had accidentally given  the order to do showers, but we weren't actually supposed to be getting  them. I thought, "well, great...that was really unexpected!" We really  weren't expecting to be on lockdown right now because the rumors had us going on lockdown on October 1st...So, here it is and I suppose it will  be a long one - probably a few weeks!

As  I wrote earlier, it is Yom Kippur and I've been fasting since yesterday  evening at sundown...Of course, the day I decide to fast is when they  have really good meals! Breakfast was some kind of eggs, and the sack  lunch they passed out earlier had baked chicken in it...Argh! The  torture! Ha ha...I put the lunch in my locker and will eat it tonight to  break the fast - assuming it doesn't give me food poisoning after sitting in my locker most of that day. I haven't always fasted, but this year I just felt it would be important and I'd reflect and pray, and of  course ask for forgiveness for any screw ups, or for any hurt I've  caused to anyone over the past year. I'm sorry and I hope you will forgive me...

Of  course I've been listening to the radio, and this Supreme Court  nomination fiasco is a mess! I was listening to AFR and some right wing  stations earlier, and it is amazing hearing them attack the woman for  making accusations of sexual assault, but it was also interesting to  hear people call into the shows and say, "He was just 17...even if he  did do something awful like that, should we ruin a man's life and family over something he did as a teenager???" And I'm thinking, well, actually we do it every day...We charge 14 year olds as adults, we lock up teenagers, we bring up their teenage past in sentencing phases to show "their character" so we can sentence them to death...These same  people calling in or commenting don't seem to have a problem with that.  Now, I do agree - if these things did happen when he was a teen - it isn't worth ruining his life/career if he has shown remorse, regret, and  apologised. I don't think any of us are who we were in our teens, or  even our early 20s...but neither do I believe he should be sitting on  the Supreme Court if these allegations are true, and he's denying or covering up his actions.

I  guess what I'm most upset about in all of this is the blatant hypocrisy  in politics, and those who will excuse (both left and right sides)  certain behaviours because they are on the winning side, and their agenda is being put through. At what point do we, as a nation, say that  I'm not going to sacrifice my principals or standards to just get what I  want...something is going to have to give...It's just dividing us further. Besides, I don't think our founding fathers EVER intended  giving the Supreme Court the power it has now...We don't elect  presidents on what they're actually going to do for the better of our  country any more, we elect them to protect Federal Judge seats, and the Supreme Court. It isn't supposed to be this way, and it isn't the representative government they had in mind...

On  a more positive note, I was thinking of a "happy" Yom Kippur memory I  had when I was 14...I had just come back from Kentucky on a fall break,  and it was my 8th grade year...I may have just turned 15, and I'm not  sure if Yom Kippur fell in September then or not, but my dad and I went  to our synagogue, Beth Shalom, in Arlington. I met up with my friends  from Hebrew School there, and I told them about my time in Kentucky and  answered their questions. My friend, Mindi, had asked if going to school  there was like the movie, "School Ties." But  what I remember most is she had a friend with her...Her parents were atheists, but wanted her to attend a service for cultural reasons, and  she was really cute! We went into the services, and one thing we'd all  do if it just became unbearably boring, was to sneak off "to the bathroom" one at a time, and then either meet up in the day care room,  or go outside and eat pecans that fell off the trees, because we were  hungry. Well, we went to the day care room and hung out for a while, and  me and this girl really hit it off. In the afternoon she called a  friend on the speaker phone, and the friend asked if there were any cute guys there...She looked right at me and said, "Yeah," and smiled. I had  butterflies in my stomach! We went back to the service, then after it  ended we all drove out to a pond to throw bread into it to symbolise  throwing our sins away...Then we went to break the fast at a restaurant. It was my dad and I, Mindi, and her family, the Goldbergs, and Mindi's  friend. I sat next to the girl, and we were playing footsies and sword fighting with the butter knives, and so I decided to take a chance and  ask her out..."No," she said. I was caught off guard! I really didn't  expect that...Then she said, "You go to school in Kentucky...It'd never  work!" Couldn't argue with her on that.

My  dad had planned to go over to Mindi's house for a bit and have some  coffee, so her parents drove off and we offered to bring Mindi back home  and drop the other girl home. She held my hand on the drive, and told  my dad how to get to her place. When we got to her home she climbed over  me to get out of the car, and kissed me on the cheek...Sadly, I never  saw her again after that! It's still a happy memory though...

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith!


September 17th, 2018

Today  has been one of those days that hasn't been bad, but a bit on the  chaotic side...I woke up and hadn't even wiped the sleep from my eyes  when guys were hollaring to see if I'd type up some grievances for them  on the two issues that the new warden had suddenly put restrictions  on...The Grievance Officer usually picks them up around 8 in the  morning, so I had to jump up and type them up in a hurry. Then I had to  get ready for recreation, and everything has just been busy busy busy since then. It finally calmed down a bit after I returned to my cell.

Whilst  I was out at recreation, I had an interesting conversation with a guy  waiting on an execution date. He told me he was "ready to go" and had  been since he was kicked out of the Supreme Court back in 2013. I said,  "Wait...your appeals have been finished since 2013, and you're still  alive?" He said, "Yeah, I know. Crazy, right?" Apparently his attorneys  filed a last ditch appeal, and it has kept him alive all of these  years!...A ruling is pending due to his having a more liberal Federal  judge or something. I don't know, I was a bit confused on the details,  but he hated the fact that he was still alive.

I  told him, "Maybe the universe isn't done with you yet. Maybe this is a  sign...or maybe you shouldn't give up so easily and keep fighting." He  told me he was worn out and just ready to go...but maybe the universe/God or whatever did have some greater purpose. I don't know what I believe half of the time...I know that I believe in something  greater than us and having grown up in Judaism and being Jewish to my  core, I believe in the oneness of God...but signs, miracles etc...I just  don't know. And yet, I can say that there have been events in my life that aren't fully explained, or were "signs" that I have willfully ignored. I have a very strong sense of intuition, and I tend to ignore  it either out of stubbornness, or an attempt to think rationally, and  yet, some things in life just aren't rational and sure as hell don't  make sense.

Maybe  if we started paying attention to the world around us, and actually  receive the signals its sending out, we'd be better off? Maybe our  "purpose" in life isn't always what WE think it is...I just find it  strange at times, and fascinating too.  

My  other thought was that this pod just holds some very strange negative  energy, and always has. Just about every guy here is permanently  miserable or agitated or angry, or else he has given up on life. I've been stuck - trapped - on this pod since last December. In  fifteen-and-a-half years, this is the longest I have ever remained on a  single pod, and it sucks...I just want to get away from the negativity and hate on this pod...And it can be contagious...spreading like a disease or wild fire, from person to person...even amongst the guards. I  am hoping I will be moved off this pod this week...I've been in this  cell for two months now, and it's well past my move date.

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.


September 16th, 2018

Man...this  weekend has flown by! I've been in relatively good spirits...I spent  Saturday morning typing up grievances for guys to turn in, and listening  to Star Wars. Like music, Star Wars is like medicine for me! I had a  visit on Saturday night and it was soooooo refreshing to get out of the cell. I needed to clear my head, and on the way out saw the most amazing sunset. I've not seen the sunset in months, so seeing the sky awash in  colours, and darkening, was just good for the soul. Breathing in the  fresh air, seeing trees...Just sublime!

I'm  sitting here getting caught up on things, and getting ready for the new  week. I wonder what surprises are in store for us??? Sheesh!

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith!


September 14th, 2018

Well,  the day started off great! It was like a late birthday party...Totally  unexpected! I had just crawled out of bed when someone said they had  something for me, that I had to fish to the dayroom to pick up...It was  tacos! Four fatty heart clogging tacos! The best kind! And a bunch of other dudes had sent me candy bars as gifts as well. Here I was moping  around because I didn't get anything from anyone here, yesterday...And  what a surprise it's all been today! It really made me feel appreciated.  I never expect or want any kind of reciprocation from anyone, and I've always given from my heart with no strings attached. But there is nothing wrong with wanting to feel appreciated, and that's the feeling  I've had this morning...

So,  the day started out great! It was really grey outside and storming  early on, but not even that could ruin the morning. Then I went to  recreation a little after noon, and things turned absolutely chaotic! I was getting ready to exercise and work off those yummy tacos (which ended up giving me heart burn, but they were worth it!) and the guards  were still serving lunch. The food cart was parked out in front of the control center, and a guy in E-day room (directly across from D-day room, the day room I was recreating in) said, "Randy! Look...A cockroach!" I looked at the cart and watched as one of these horrible  insects came from INSIDE of the cart, walked along the edge of the door,  and went back INTO the cart! I said, "Holy shit!" So, we tried to get  the female officer's attention to let her know before she started  loading up trays to feed...I said, "There's cockroaches in the food  cart," and she says, "Well, what do you want me to do about it?" The guy who warned me about the cockroaches said, "Take it back to the kitchen!!!" She unplugged the cart and pushed it out the pod door...She  was gone maybe 4 or 5 minutes when she pushed the cart back in. Now, the  kitchen is about 60-70 yards away from C-pod, so it would be an impossibility for her to have taken the cart to the kitchen, replace the  trays, and bring it back in that amount of time...So, I called her out  on it. I said, "You did not replace those trays. Unless you can bend the  space time continuim, there is no way you traded those trays out or  replaced that cart." She ignored me...

About that same time a sergeant came on the pod, so we tried to tell her  about what happened. She said, "We know about the problem!" And so the  guy in E-day room said, "Do something about it then!" Nothing was ever  done, so all we could do was warn guys that cockroaches were in the food  cart.

After that, some other officers came in and started posting "Effective  Immediately" signs all over the place from the new warden. This guy is a  complete tyrant! The two new signs said we are no longer allowed to  bring games like chess or dominoes to the day room, and he was putting a restriction on candy, juice, ketchup, and grape jelly, from the  commissary. Now, I'm a ketchup junkie! I put it on everything, and buy a  couple of bottles each time I go to commissary - it's the only way to  make the food palatable. That being said, these particular ingredients  can be used to make hooch, but they've got disciplinary mechanisms in  place to try and keep guys from making prison wine. The warden cannot assume that just because a person buys these particular items that  they're going to make hooch!...It's ridiculous, and he's hell bent on  taking any kind of "comfort" away from inmates that he can. I'm sure there are people who would say, "Good! You guys shouldn't have diddly  squat in your cells, or any comfort! You need to be miserable!" But consider this: the more harsh conditions become, and the more restrictive they are, leads to some truly awful things...The mental  collapse of inmates - a health issue which in turn creates more of a burden on the State, and on the taxpayer who  has to cover the medical costs of these problems. And for some of the  more aggressive inmates, it gives them the sense that they have nothing  left to lose, and they can end up hurting someone, and putting staff at considerable risk. It's not a good thing...There is a reason why the  TDCJ allows certain privileges and comforts. The warden is not above  these policies and privileges, and cannot make up his own rules and  policies as he goes.  

I offered to write grievances on various issues, for guys who can't  write, and just asked that they promise to turn them in. That is our  only course of action back here...I don't expect it to be effective, but  it is all we can do!

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith...


September 13th, 2018

It's  a weird feeling to wake up on your birthday and wonder if you're going  to make it to be 42 years old. I've made it to 41, and many years ago I  didn't expect to last this long, but I'm here and I'm both blessed and  grateful for this year. All I can do is hope, and continue to ask for  mercy and for another chance to prove my value and contribute/give back  to people less fortunate.

I  wanted to thank those who have wished me a happy birthday! I really  appreciated it, and whilst today has been nothing spectacular, receiving  cards, Jpay messages, and well wishes, has filled my heart with so much  happiness and love.

Nobody  here has done anything special for me; no tacos or anything, but that's  okay. No one owes me anything and I don't need any kind of  reciprocation. I know that if I was around certain friends here that I  haven't seen in almost a year, they would be really spoiling me. The  guys around me now...I'm good. I'm grateful to be alive.

And  finally, thanks to my wonderful girlfriend who I love very much, and who has made my birthday so extra special...I've received some amazing cards and extra  lovin', and it has had my heart up in the clouds. I'm a lucky dude :-)

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith!


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