Tuesday, October 28, 2014

‘Dear Society’

Friday, October 17, 2014

I was asked to verbally promote myself this week and realized that I was at a bit of a loss. Everything my mind was asking my mouth to say had repercussions and/or opened doors to more intense questions.

How am I to embrace life and be my authentic self, when I know that the majority of people will automatically shut me out simply because I have been to prison? The irony is that I don’t blame anyone for this response because well, I understand it. Still, I feel as though I have shown up to a swim meet and have no idea how to swim.

Here I am in prison and I have adapted. I have learned how to survive and rise above. When I get out of prison, my goal is to be authentic as possible. I realize that this will be difficult, but it is the right thing to do. My mind is flooded with all of the questions that inevitably will lead me right back here. All along I have believed that once I am out, living my life again, that I could close this particular chapter of my life and not look back again. I have realized now that it is not possible. Eventually people will find out. It is better that I tell the truth, better that it comes from me.

I wonder: when would people want to know? It’s not as if I intend on introducing myself to everyone that I meet as “Hi. I’m David and I am an ex con.” So, when is right? Clearly not everyone needs to know. My tailor, dry cleaner, or the corner grocer doesn’t necessarily need to know. My clients and people I would like to build relationships with… well they need to know.

I would be a complete tool to ask people for leniency and understanding. Nobody can understand the weight of being responsible for lost lives unless they have first hand experience. The understanding my crime, my accident, my poor decision is incredibly common doesn’t make me feel any better. All I can do is ask you – ‘Society’ to give me a chance to do good. Who’s to say if I deserve it or not because I am so far past ‘chances’ – but I have never asked before.

I just want a chance and no matter what my attitude, education, skills and ambition is…. my success is and will, be greatly affected by you. 

Or didn’t you realize?

Link to a national survey on Collateral Consequences Ex Convicts must face: 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Yes, this is the title of an excellent film from back in the 80’s but it has also become my mantra before my “BFF” Joey comes out to Scottsdale, AZ. God love him for leaving Boston to travel to the cultural wasteland of Arizona for 32 hours of visitation with me. It means a lot but truthfully, I can’t say for sure that even I would do it, if the roles were reversed.

No matter how one looks at the situation, we are long overdue for a visit. We keep each other in check and I think both of us have been pacing the edge of that proverbial cliff for some time. Things have become bottled up and abnormal stress levels have come into our lives. Not surprisingly, we view these concerns in a completely separate, opposite manner. Issues around aging have become a factor for each of us in different ways. We are both doing what we must do to ‘get by’ but, I don’t think either one of us are in authentically happy places right now. I will know more soon enough.

There is an undeniable white elephant to deal with as well and that is that somehow, all of the motivation and determination to find a home in Boston has come to a crawl. It is a conversation that mom, Joey and I will have to have together. The irony is that it works for all of us simply because we are friends. No matter what, I will always be the “child” to my mother. But Joey is the perfect mediator for times like these so I will certainly take advantage of the opportunity.

What I know for sure is that by the time Joey has boarded the plane back to Boston, he will have smacked me around, given me a jab, an upper cut and a bucket of ice water. (Metaphorically speaking…) Trust and believe that I will have had a very similar effect on him. It is our duty to one another in a way. He and I are well aware of how important these visits are. 

Surprisingly, I have the impression that my mom is more excited to see him than even I am. I am glad for that because Joey has a tremendous effect on her. She gets a spark back and seems lighter on her feet in a way. Perhaps it is because he represents change and all the great things that invariably she is striving toward at the moment.

Right now, as I sit here, I know Joey will be here in a couple of days and I can tell you that I sense that something is going to happen during his time here. I foresee a monumental shift, a change in mind or a revelation that will affect the plans that have already been made. I know it. I feel it and truth be told. It doesn’t terrify me. It instead, makes me question the skills I have developed to manage change and adaptation.

‘The Adonis Revelation’

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

I read this book titled “The AdonisComplex” over the weekend. When I began reading the book, I maintained an open mind as I believe I know people suffering from this. As I delved deeper into the text however, I became acutely aware of the fact that I too, am exhibiting characteristics of this complex.

There is no point denying the fact that I grew up as a very secure and confident young man. Unlike most however, I somehow lost all of that confidence in my early to mid teens. I literally had to start out at ground zero in terms of rebuilding myself. Though challenging, I think that I have finally gotten to a decent place both mentally and emotionally. Physically, I am fine with how I look and I love my body. I am complimented constantly and my workouts are mimicked regularly by others. Isn’t that imitation supposed to register a high form of flattery?

The problem is not what is on the outside though, it is what is on the inside. And that is one of the biggest problems many people have today. Our cosmetically superficial traits are directly linked to our deeper, inner personal insecurities. 

Take me for instance. I receive compliments on my appearance, how much I have grown, matured etc. All of that is good, but it doesn’t really register with me. It all kind of goes in one ear and out the other. The things that do stay with me, the things that register, are the negative comments about my flaws. My reaction is to always counter any compliment or positive feedback with a negative thought that I may have. It is a scary revelation because it’s all very connected. 

Let’s see if you can relate in any way to how I combat things mentally….

  • When people say that I have grown and matured so much, I hear them. But my thinking voice is wondering if they know how much I keep bottled up inside though? Really, that is all I do now so, if that is a sign of growth and maturity, then yes, I have excelled at that without a doubt.

  • When people say I am looking good, well I hear that too. I do not believe those compliments though. Instead, I see a follically challenged man, with horrendous combination skin damaged by the sun and a face that is aged by the anxiety and stress of prison.

I don’t know how I have missed all these blatant counter attacks on myself all this time. This book has opened more doors for me – and at the same time, slapped me in the face. The big question it raised is of course: do I love myself? The answer is ‘yes’ – but I have realized that I have conditions to that self-love. 

That is something that I need to work on. Alas, I am seriously a constant work in progress.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

‘Domestic Violence…Is it really so different than violence in general?’

Monday, September 29, 2014

Okay, here’s the deal: I have gone back and forth over whether or not I should – or should not – address this issue here in my blog. Because of the Ray Rice incident, domestic violence amongst football players is a very HOT topic around the world right now, and I have incredibly mixed feelings about it. Please keep in mind that I can only speak from my own opinion but if any of you would like to comment, then please feel free to do so. 

It is a very vexing situation for me. Football runs through my veins and that is not an exaggeration. I am quite frankly obsessed. I grew up with the San Francisco 49ers in the 80’s and 90’s when violence in the sport of football was all part of the draw. Ronnie Lotte, for example, was one of the most aggressive players in the NFL at that time and we literally wanted him to kill his opponents. As fans, we would yell “Crush em!’”, “Take their heads off!”, Go for their knees!” and all sorts of other horrible, outrageous things. And we meant it too. Obviously it was expressed in a more metaphysical, than literal way.

Football has toned down now for the safety of the players but, it is still a violent sport and we, as fans, love it. Here is the double standard though: we want these athletes to be testosterone storming, to be strong, aggressive and violent on the field. They are human beings though – which means that ‘trained behavior’ sticks with them. Can we really blame them for beating up their wives or girlfriends, or do we need to also blame ourselves for turning them into the dominant, aggressive and violent beings that they have become?

Please believe me: I am in no way making excuses for their behavior but rather, just highlighting the “why?” aspect in the minds of these men. There is no quick fix because even though it is clearly a problem within professional sports, it is also a worldwide pandemic. 

Yes, there is a nurture/nature aspect to violent behavior. If a child grows up in a violent home then it is more likely that they will become violent in their own life, But how do we stop the cycle? Is it even possible?

A major problem that I do have is this: why is domestic assault handled differently than any other assault? Whose idea was that and where is the logic?

Imagine this:

Scenario #1 – a man beats his wife’s head in with an iron and fractures most every bone in her face. He is charged with domestic assault violence and given a few months in jail.

Scenario #2 – using a baseball bat, a man beats a female clerk at a convenience store in the head and fractures every bone in her face. He is charged with aggravated assault, or possibly, attempted murder and goes away to prison for many years.

Violence is violence. Yes, I am a guilty proponent of it when it comes to professional sports. I enjoy mixed martial arts, and my favorite sports are Football and Rugby. No surprise that both of these sports are incredibly violent.

How do I find a balance? Is it possible?

‘Embracing Unpleasant Facts’

Sunday, September 28, 2014

I fully realize that my entries since relocating to Florence Arizona have been sparse. That will be changing and I promise to my followers to get back on track. The transition has been challenging mentally and I have settled in as best as I can. For some time, I have been allowing myself to be affected by all of the things that I do not like about life at the moment. Along with that, came all of the things I am not liking about myself, and of course, the people I am closest to. It is a very slippery slope once you get on and I had to put a stop to it.

I have never been a particularly negative person. Truth be told, I am medicated for it in a way. What I mean by that is that I am diagnosed with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and ironically, the medication that works best for that – is Zoloft, which is also used to treat depression. All that said, you would think that I’d be so damned happy that I’d be using Pharrell’s song as an anthem of my own.

But I am not.

Like I said, things have been difficult and well, I have been difficult as well, I am almost joyless, or at least I was. I had to let go of the desired control, input and choices. Coming to the new minimum yard, I had set myself up for failure from the start because I didn’t know any better. Slowly, I began to look at it for what it is – a “pit stop” along the way to wherever it is that I am headed. It is not permanent, it is not forever and I have a release date. For the first time in my sentence, I can truly say this is my ‘temporary housing’.  That fact, though still unpleasant in reality, makes me happy.

Most important is that I have adopted immediate counter measures in my everyday life as a mechanism to cope. If you are wondering what that means, here are a few examples:

Challenge: The food served here is atrocious and unidentifiable.
Counter Measure: I am thankful that I have my own food and the support from my mother that enables me to eat well.

Challenge: When I speak to some of my fellow inmates it feels like the very process of doing so is robbing me of brain cells.
Counter Measure: I pick up the phone and call Joey, my mom, Deb or Kevin and talk about something interesting and intelligent

Challenge: I really hate wearing the color orange
Counter Measure: Luckily for me, there are worse colors against my skin tone

Challenge: I hate my job
Counter Balance: I remind myself that 85% of Americans also hate their jobs and they aren’t in prison!

In adopting this behavior, it has allowed me to genuinely be more positive and care less about all the crap that has been getting me down. Yes – “this too shall pass”, but I have to be able to deal with it in a smart and positive way.