Tonight I will be attending a business class that my friend, Kurt is teaching. I’ve seen many inmates approach Kurt over the last couple of weeks about this business class that is posted all over the prison. I look forward to learning a few things and taking notes. Kurt seems to be very educated in many things; I respect him and take everything he tells me in confidence very seriously. He has a great deal of conviction in everything that he does, much like me, so I have no doubt that he’ll be teaching a great class.
Unfortunately a storm blew over the prison this evening during dinner time, causing the staff to shut down the yard completely, delaying our dinner by almost two hours and inevitably canceling Kurt’s’ business class for the second week in a row. I listened to the Sgt. telling Kurt about the cancelation and also how she misjudged just how many people would be wanting to attend such a class. Now, because of the overwhelming number of people wanting to attend, they have to create a signup sheet with a limited number of people in order to have enough space in the classroom. I’m sure I’ll make the cut since I know the teacher.
Kurt and I have been trying to be cell mates since last Christmas, five months ago. In that time we have seen several people move around and switch cells. I truly believe this is a result of one of the staff members in charge of the cell moves that doesn’t like me for simply typing his name in one of my blog entries months ago. I say this because many of the people I have seen moving into other cells, I approached and asked when they requested such a move and they generally respond that it was just recently that they filed. Typing a staff members name and disclosing information is not against any of the rules, this is why I have not been thrown in the hole or received any rule infractions, however this staff member did express his dislike in what I do, he said he wished it was against the rules and he also told me never to write his name again. Being a man of my word now, I told him that I would never write his name in my blog again, hence the HE, HIM, HIS, HE’S. But I will never stop writing about my life in prison, what goes on from day to day and the constant injustices made by staff, just like the beating of an inmate that I wrote about just a couple weeks ago. This is more proof that the penal system has no desire to “rehabilitate” us for re-entry into society; they simply want to insure the security of the prison and see that they keep the beds full. This is why it is so important for any and every inmate to take responsibility for the recovery of their own life and future success upon release. Don’t wait on somebody to do something to help you, it will never happen. We got ourselves into this mess, it’s our responsibility to get ourselves out of it and create a new and better future, fighting back and beating the power of this prison machine and its’ recidivism rates.
My guitar practice continues to improve with every day that passes. I’ve been reading guitar for dummies and practicing every day for at least an hour at a time. What I had no idea about is how quickly I would go through sets of strings, having to change them out, what seems to be around once a month now. Just yesterday I had to change my strings again, now I only have one set of strings left. Kurt told me this is common, especially with the amount of time I practice each day. It looks like next time I’m going to have to order a lot more strings. I love playing the guitar, making sounds that are progressing into music; I have a knack for it. Playing the guitar frees my mind of everything, good and bad, it sort of stops time. All I can think about is the guitar and the music. This is just another healthy release that I’ve taken on in life and I know it will also be a part of my life after my release, much like my drive for health and fitness.
I started reading a book called ‘Guitar For Dummies’ that my parents ordered me from Amazon. This book is great; it’s very helpful in learning all the basics for playing the guitar well. I’m only just a few chapters into it, but I can already tell that it’s going to help me figure out some of the things I need to know. I was previously stuck with practicing much of what I know on the guitar every day, yet not learning anything new. Now I feel as if I have much to learn. My friend, Kurt continues to help me with practice; it’s only difficult to get together with our guitars because of the new rules set in place, banning us from bringing our instruments out to the day room area. This wouldn’t be an issue if we were cell mates, something we’ve both been trying to accomplish since last Christmas. Hopefully our patience and persistence will pay off soon.
I had an amazing visit with my mother and son yesterday. Taylor clung to me the entire time, as if we were never apart. He’s such a character, joking around, laughing, and hugging. What made it very hard was having to say goodbye. When it was time for everyone to leave, Taylor hugged me and he wouldn’t let me go. I didn’t want to let him go either, I could have held onto him all day and night. I can still smell Taylor in my clothing and it makes my heart ache. I tried to pick up my guitar to practice, but I couldn’t concentrate on a thing, I just really miss my family right now. I’m not going to allow this to continue to affect me of course. Tomorrow I’ll be right back in the rhythm of my regular routine, using this heart ache for my family as fuel to keep achieving my goals in life, but for now I think it’s perfectly alright for me to feel this way, missing the loving warmth of my family.
Continuing to break personal records. Yesterday I ran thirty laps around the track, which equals to 7.5 miles. This is the longest distance I think I have ever run before. I enjoy pushing myself to do better; it’s an accomplishment that never gets old. When I realize that my capacity for strength and endurance exceeds what was once set in my mind, it gives me the motivation to keep pushing myself. Running is one of the most therapeutic tools in my box. Running 7.5 miles took me an hour and fifteen minutes. That’s plenty of time to do nothing but think, think about my life, goals, future, family, etc. Not to mention how great I feel the rest of the day, calm, relaxed, rested, etc. My body is used to running an average of five, or six miles a day, but today I feel very sore. It’s a good soreness, a soreness I welcome, because it’s a reminder of my achievement and proof of how hard I worked to get healthier physically and mentally as well.
I haven’t seen my son, Taylor in months. It’s been twice as long since I’ve seen my daughter, Caitlin. Taylor was supposed to come visit me last weekend, but his brothers’ birthday party was moved to the date of our visit. So this weekend will hopefully be when he gets to come. I miss my family so much, but my children take the cake. It makes me sick that I have to be so detached from their lives. They’re both growing up so fast and I continue to miss out on so much, so many memories I didn’t get to be a part of, so many more to come. I haven’t a single doubt that I will ever make another poor choice that, one that would ruin both my life and the lives of my family. This is something that I’m left thinking about, every hour of every day.
Last night I started another class that I signed up for a few weeks ago. The class is called Focus; it was designed to address issues that may confront an individual here and after release from prison. It also deals with coping and adapting with other inmates, from all facets of life, something that’s not always easy for me to do myself. Like most of these classes here in prison, I already have a deep understanding of right and wrong, and what to do after release in order to remain a free, law abiding and successful contributing member of society, but what if I have the chance to actually learn something else, or even better, what if I can help educate another inmate with my own experiences in life and knowledge acquired over these last few years of imprisonment? So once a week, for the next twelve weeks I’ll be sitting in Focus class, listening intently to the views of others, possibly sharing some of my own perspective, striving to learn more, or lend a hand to another man in need of help.
I was extremely frustrated to see two cards that I mailed out early last week get returned under my cell door. I sent a birthday card to my son, Taylors’ brother, Dakota, and another card to their mother for Mothers’ Day. Both cards were mailed to the same address and the address was written correctly, but the reason stamped on the cards for being returned said that there was no such address and they were unable to forward them. I know this is false because I’ve mailed letters to this address several times before. Normally it would be as simple as just sticking them back in another envelope and mailing them back out, but this is prison, where nothing is simple. Now I have to wait another week to go to the commissary and purchase a large manila envelope to stick the cards in, then I have to wait another three days because we can only mail out large envelopes on Fridays between 8:30 and 9:30 a.m. Now it’s going to be two weeks late getting to their destination. This frustrates me because the old Steven always forgot special occasions and this makes me feel as if I’ve let them down. I know this isn’t my fault, but Dakota and his mother don’t know that.
We call the Captains white shirts because they wear different clothes then the guards and of course their shirts are white. Just last night two white shirts came to our unit to try and convince our on duty guard (the same guard that reported the inmate getting beaten) to recant her statement. This is just another sad truth about how prison work extra hard to cover up the corrupt and unacceptable behaviors of the staff that work here. This wasn’t the first time our unit guard was approached about not telling on her fellow officers either. Just yesterday I heard her being told that guards don’t tell on each other by another guard. This is why I don’t hesitate to write such things in my blog. If I don’t speak up and broadcast such terrible acts made by the very individuals that are supposed to be protecting us, then others may never find out. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if my last two entries get erased and never make it home, but I have to try. People outside of these prison walls have the right to know what goes on in here. The same goes for when another inmate breaks the law in here. I don’t know if our unit guard will in fact recant her statement because of pressure from her co-workers, but I hope that she continues to stand firm in her beliefs of what is right and what is wrong.
In other prisons inmates often get beat up, or jumped by the guards and it does happen in here also, it just doesn’t seem to be as often, or as blatantly in front of others. A couple of days ago another inmate was beaten by two guards for reasons I’m not clear on. What I am clear about is that more than a handful of us watched as the two guards made the inmate stand facing the wall, with both hands on the wall and legs spread apart in a frisking position. While the inmate was in this defenseless position one of the guards punched him right in the face, then both the guards slammed him to the ground and continued to beat him. After this happened they hauled the inmate off to the hole where he remains to this day. I’ve heard rumors as to why the guards did this, but I will not state rumors, right now I only state facts. The fact is that if something like this happened in society, outside of prison walls, not only would these two guards lose their job, but they would also get hauled off to jail, possibly the highlight on the daily local news. Unfortunately in prison there is a set of rules and laws that guards don’t seem to have to abide by. What I was glad to see is our on duty guard that was in the block who witnessed the other two guards beating an inmate decided to call her boss and explain what happened because she knew it was the right thing to do. So I can say that not every guard treats us bad, some guards live by a higher standard of ethics that simply consist of what’s right and what’s wrong. I was also pleased to see that many of the inmates that watched the incident take place immediately started to fill out complaint forms and account for what they just witnessed. But what I can’t understand is how the very guards who beat the inmate were in the chow hall just last night for dinner, laughing at us about the situation and the amount of complaint forms everybody filed, including his own co-worker reporting the incident and yet here they are, still on the job, laughing in our faces, taunting us.
My good friend, Kurt finally got his guitar that he’s been waiting on, for what seems to be months now. Kurt’s’ guitar was on a back order for the longest time, he doesn’t have it in his possession yet, now it’s getting titled in the title department, so he’ll probably get it sometime next week. I walked down to receiving with him to check it out; it looks a lot like mine, same color, only his is a true classical guitar, smaller and made for nylon strings, whereas mine is made for steel strings. I talk about my friend, Kurt’s’ guitar because I’m excited to finally start playing with him. Now that the weather is generally nicer, we can both take our guitars outside on the yard and practice. I really need some new things to learn, Kurt is talented, among many other inmates in here as well, but I prefer learning from my only friend, he’s the only one I really enjoy spending any time with in here.