NEW PERSONAL RECORD!!!
Today I surpassed my previous record of 7.5 miles by almost another mile. I finished running 8.25 miles in 1 hour and 18 minutes, that’s thirty three laps around the track at an average of 9-10 minutes per mile. I can’t remember exactly what kilometers to miles are, but I do know that’s pretty close to or over a 10K run. I have no doubt that I will achieve my goal of running ten miles a day by the end of the summer. I’m very proud of the accomplishments I’m making in here, because I’ve worked very hard to get where I’m at and my dedication continues to pay off for me. This is the hardest that I’ve ever worked at anything in my life; I’ve taken huge steps forward in securing my health and future. Going further and further on the track just another way of seeing how far I can go in reference to the rest of my life when it comes to working hard and never giving up.
Guitar practice continues to move along well for me. I truly enjoy learning this instrument; it gives me a sense of peace and serenity that is extremely hard to find in prison. Although learning guitar has it’s curves, teaching my hands the muscle memory required to make crisp, clear sounding chords are a difficult task, this progression doesn’t happen overnight, or even in a month for that matter, but patience and persistence certainly pays off in the long run.
My friend Kurt told me about a video visit that he was having with his friend today. He told me that his friend was on vacation in some beautiful island south of the United States somewhere I can’t quite remember. He told me that his friend was going to talk about some things for the first fifteen minutes, then face the camera towards the beautiful ocean view for the last fifteen minutes and that I should come down and check it out, so I did. The scenery was breathtaking. Looking at a view so amazing makes me wonder why I ever made drugs more important than my freedom. All I know is that every day for the rest of my life will be dedicated to and focused on sobriety and success, enabling me to attain things like another vacation to beautiful parts of the world with my family and children sharing in the experience.
I often hear about inmates hooking up with women that they’ve never even met before from inside prison. Many times it’s from other inmates that are writing a women or talking on the phone with, introducing their friends to more inmates, giving out their address or phone number, thus continuing the cycle of extremely strange relationships. On one hand I feel sorry for some of these women because they are only being used by these inmates, for money, food, clothing and getting other things accomplished that they normally wouldn’t be able to without these women on the outside. Often when the inmate gets released, they never contact these women again, never having any intention of nurturing these relationships after release. These women are obviously very needy and ill, with an unhealthy need for co-dependency. On the other hand I don’t feel sorry for them at all. First of all, they’re establishing a relationship with a convicted felon in prison of all places. In this day and age, with the internet and all of its dating sites, why would a person be attracted to a prisoner, a person that they can’t even have personal contact with, except on visits?… I was talking with someone in hear that’s always getting food boxes and clothing boxes and money on his books from this women that he’s never even met in person. He has a wife and children that he’s going to when he gets out, so I asked him what he’s going to do with his relationship with this other woman when he gets out and he told me he’s never going to have anything to do with her. Prison is a strange world that attracts strange people. I’m fascinated by such things and sickened by them at the same time. I never want to fully understand this temporary world I live in, I’m just passing through.
Kurt and I have a very similar daily routine. What’s really nice is that we both go to bed at the same time, no longer having to worry about the door being open and unlocked while I’m sleeping. Often Kurt and I talk before going to sleep, saying goodnight. It sounds a little weird typing this in my blog, but the reason I say this is because something as simple as saying goodnight to someone while in prison brings back so many feelings of being free, at home, in the presence of love ones. I haven’t said something as human as goodnight to another person in over three years. So much time goes by, where one can feel so disconnected from life. Prison is just so dehumanizing to the point where you have to create callousness for things in order to cope with the day to day in here. Having a cellmate that I care enough about to converse with, confide in and say goodnight to just make me feel a little more human again.
Kurt and I sat down for a couple hours, talking about life, addiction, and the poor decisions of our past, family, a few war stories and on and on we talked. I haven’t been so open with another person in many years. This is another great step forward in my recovery, attempting to act like a normal functioning human without the use of substances in my life, thus preparing for a successful life upon release from prison.
A man I know in here has been in prison the last thirty years for murder. In just a few short months he’s going up to the parole board in an attempt to be released. He hasn’t been in any major trouble in over ten years, but much of his early years in here consisted of gang involvement, drugs, weapons, beatings, etc., you name it, this man was probably involved in it. Well for some reason, because he hasn’t been in any trouble these last ten or so years he believes he has a chance of being released by the parole board. That all changed not too long ago. Apparently he got into a conflict with our case worker about an issue of transfer. This man has extreme anger problems and a long history of violence, so they threw him in the hole for fear of what he might do. Now that he screwed up any possible chance of parole, he really has nothing to lose, so retaliation is a good possibility, one that the staff here isn’t willing to risk and I surely don’t blame them. Now, from what I hear they are going to raise his security level and send him to another prison from the hole. Of course I don’t wish bad things on anybody, but from my interaction with many inmates, I truly believe that some prisoners deserve a second chance at freedom and others should never again see the light of day. I have no doubt that certain individuals are just evil and would surely rape and kill again if given the chance.
Today is my son, Taylors’ ninth birthday. I was fortunate enough to call both him and my daughter, Caitlin from my parents’ house yesterday. My mother and father had a birthday pool party for Taylor at their house, enabling me to call and wish him a happy birthday. I really hate myself for missing yet another one of my children’s’ birthdays, but at least I know that I’ll never be missing another single special occasion with any of my children after my release from prison and for the rest of our lives. Only death itself can stop me from being depended on by my family.
For more than a week now I’ve had a really bad stomach ache. All week I’ve tried to rest and take it easy and nothing has changed my stomach pains only increased. Yesterday I decided to start fasting in order to expel whatever is causing me so much pain. This is the first time I have ever done anything like this. I haven’t had a single bite to eat since Friday night. After tonight I will have fasted for 48 hours without food. A whole lot of water and some powdered protein drink mixes are all that I’ve had. Yesterday I was starving, but today it’s not as bad, only mental. I’ve been feeling a funny kind of euphoria from not eating, maybe it’s just my body’s’ way of coping without food. The most important thing is that today I’m finally starting to feel better, no more stomach pains. Mission accomplished. Tomorrow morning I’ll be going to breakfast, back to eating well, running the track and working out hard.
Yesterday my good friend and new cell mate, Kurt was called down to the R.I.B. department for questioning. R.I.B. stands for Rule Infraction Board. Upon Kurt’s’ arrival to R.I.B. he was handcuffed and questioned by a staff member about some of his recent emails home. Apparently he made some comments about the prison staff in general, yet not one in specific. Rustling some bad feathers, certain prison authorities took his comments personal and to offense. Now I’m certainly not going to comment on who said what because I wasn’t in the office, neither have I read his email home, but one thing I do know is that we as inmates still have certain rights and one of those rights is the freedom to speak our opinions when communicating with our family, our beloved friends and the rest of the world outside, whether it be in a visit, on the phone, or through the mail, email is just another form of corresponding. This is why Kurt is not in the hole, he violated no rules. An hour or so after his run in with R.I.B., Kurt was called down to the Captains’ office for more questioning. Kurt was in the shower when the they called for him this time. Obviously having to dry off, get to the cell to get dressed first, he just wasn’t fast enough for the guard that called for him. So the the guard came up to our cell, started cussing at him, telling him to get his ass down to the Captains’ office immediately. Even after Kurt apologized to the guard for not being fast enough, the guard decided to destroy our cell and all of our property in it. We all know that this had nothing to do with not getting out of the shower fast enough. This was nothing more than an act of retaliation for words written in an email. Even though Kurt followed the rules, the prison staff decided to break their own rules. The rules clearly state that after any cell shakedown, our cell is supposed to be left in a reasonable order which is close or similar to the way they found it. Retaliation in itself is against the rules set in place by prison officials. If you ask me, I felt that Kurt and I were both being harassed by having all of our personal belongings trashed, thrown around the cell and mixed up together. It’s very possible that I may suffer repercussions for this journal entry, but I speak only the truth and I believe that people have the right to be informed how inmates are being treated in prisons all over this country. If we don’t speak up, then who will? I work hard every day to change the quality of my life and future for the better and everyday it becomes clearer to me that there is nothing correctional about prison. Prison staff is only concerned with the security of this prison and their selves. Attempting to help rehabilitate any of the inmates inside of this prison just doesn’t seem to be in their interest. If you want to change in here, you’ve got to grab life by the balls and do it yourself.
Growing up, my father always used to talk about never getting a good night’s sleep. I never understood how fortunate I was to sleep so well through the night. Now I completely understand how my father feels. Over the years, even as an adult, before coming to prison, I thought sleeping still wasn’t a problem for me, but what I was really doing every night was passing out at the end of each day from all the substances in my body. I would smoke pot and take pills from the time I woke up until the time I passed out again at the end of the day. In the county jail I quit using narcotics, but I continued to take a plethora of antidepressants, antianxiety and sleeping medication that I convinced the doctors I needed, acting out the part of crazy and exaggerating multiple symptoms in order to replace the powerful drugs that I no longer had access to. The pills did help me control my depression and it eased the discomfort of coming off of so many drugs. As more time passed in the county jail, the length time being sober increased, lifting much of the fog and pot resin from my brain, the reality of my choices in life and my future ahead began to set in. Needless to say that I didn’t like where I was headed. My addiction was and still is the center of all my problems. I knew I had to change in order to have any kind of life. I knew it was wrong taking all those pills I convinced the doctor to prescribe me, whether or not they were getting me high, they were a crutch, another dependency to an unnecessary substance. Clarity of mind and thought could no longer allow me to use these drugs guilt free. So I quit taking everything cold turkey. It took a long time for all those crazy pills to exit my body and I slowly started to feel a difference, both good and bad, things stopped feeling farce, emotions started to take over. I loved being sensitive to the world around me, everything made me feel so alive again. Other times things would get the best of me, unable to cope, my harsh reality and the wreckage of my past, hurting everyone I loved made me feel like the scum of the earth. I’m glad I quit taking those crazy pills, true sobriety has opened my eyes to the life I created and the steps I have to take to change my future. I’ve finally forgiven myself for all my past decisions and now I spend every day trying to love myself a little more and make myself stronger, mentally, emotionally and physically, preparing myself for the rest of my life. I care about life, I care about my future, I want to be loved and respected. In order to attain these things I must remain sober and vigilant to my recovery. Having said all that, what I started out trying to say in the beginning is that being sober, free from all substances has also opened my eyes to the fact that I, like my father do not get a good nights’ sleep either. Every night I wake up what seems to be sometimes more than once in an hour. In total I wake up an average of eight to ten times each night and that’s not including the times I get up to use the restroom, which is an average of five times each night, but that’s another topic. I have no doubt that much of my restless sleep has to do with being in prison, on an extremely small and uncomfortable mattress, coupled with consistently uncomfortable room temperatures and humidity levels. This is just another one of many reasons that I run my butt off every day and work out a hard as possible. Exhausting my body helps me to sleep just a little easier each day.
Having a celly that I like and trust continues to make day to day life in prison so much easier. I no longer worry about as many things each day, my routine is much easier to adhere to because it synchronizes with Kurt’s and we both help each other. Practicing the guitar is much more enjoyable now too. Kurt and I both have our own guitars and we play them together, making tunes sound more like music, helping me understand rhythms better without having the outside distractions of being surrounded by other inmates on the yard. Kurt is a skilled guitar player, far beyond my beginner status so I’d have to say that I get more out of it then he does, but it’s still enjoyable none the less.
I started making another soap carving for my son, Taylor. I was making little Stewy from the Family Guy cartoon, then I broke his arms not being careful enough. Now I have to start all over again. I’m just a little bummed because I wanted to send it home in time for his birthday next week on the first. I already sent him one I made of Sponge Bob Square Pants, so it’s not like I didn’t get him a gift, it’s just that he already got Sponge Bob two weeks ago and I wanted him to have another one for on the date of his birthday. Oh well, at least I now have the rest of our lives to make up for lost birthdays with both of my children. I can’t beat myself up about this stuff forever.
Yes!! Finally, my good friend, Kurt moved into my cell with me. Life just got a little easier now that I have someone I trust and get along with sleeping in the bed above me. Having Kurt as a celly makes so many things in prison life easier to deal with. I no longer have to worry about my belongings being rummaged through or taken from me; I no longer have to worry about contraband, or illegal substances being brought into our cell, no more searching for suspicious smells coming from an unhygienic individual, etc. Kurt and I have many things in common, our daily routine matches up perfectly and we both share a goal that is centered on creating a better, drug free life and successful future after release from prison. Kurt just moved in here a few short hours ago, so it all really hasn’t set in yet. To an outside reader, this might not sound like a big deal, but living with a good, or bad cell mate can either make living in prison tolerable, or a living hell.
For many years I’ve been fighting with depression. Over the past couple years of my sobriety and refusal to take anymore antidepressants, anxiety, or sleeping medications, I’ve come to realize that the severity of my past depression stemmed from my substance abuse and my guilt for the people I hurt in the process. As more time goes by, I rarely get down on myself anymore. In fact the last time I was a little depressed was last Christmas. Holidays are always hard for me in here. Don’t get me wrong, I still get upset when I haven’t seen my family in a while, or I hear something displeasing about one of my children, but it’s much different than my past depression, it’s not debilitating, it doesn’t steal the wind from my sails anymore. I just keep pushing through each day, maintaining my routine, fulfilling my goals. Having said that, I would have to say that today my depression has gotten the best of me. My daughter, Caitlin graduated from school last week, my son, Taylors’9th birthday is next week and to top it off I made my poor, sweet, loving mother feel bad yesterday during our video visit. Of course I didn’t intend to make her feel bad, but I should have known better. My mother does so much for me, my children and the rest of my family that she spreads herself thin. I was asking her about why she hadn’t yet taken care of some mail and some other things that to me might seem like simple things to me, but to her, with all that she has on her plate is a lot of extra work. Being cut off from the world for the last three years has made it difficult to grasp the concept of time and the busy pace of life. I somehow made my mother feel as if she was neglecting me and now I feel horrible. Depression is weighing me down today, but even through all this, I’ve been able to maintain my daily goals, sticking to my routine, refusing to allow sadness to control my life. This is a major step for me, my recovery and my growth to a successful man and ultimately living a better way of life.
My daughter, Caitlin graduates from high school this week. I’m so proud of all the accomplishments my daughter has made with her life and for her future, but I can’t help feeling sick and disgusted about missing out on so much of her life, so many important events, so many more to come. I am the prime example of a dead beat dad. I take responsibility for all of my shortcomings, I’ve forgiven myself for all my sins and crimes against others and I work hard every day to secure a better future for myself and my children, but that doesn’t change the fact that Caitlin will be receiving her diploma in a fatherless crowd of people, she will always remember the plethora of events that her father was absent for and that continues to crush my sober heart.