Sunday, September 7, 2014

‘The Scarlet Color’

Saturday, August 30, 2014

I have been experiencing a lot of new things lately. 

My new job is very demanding and the jury is out on whether or not I will actually like it. It does keep me busy though, and for now, it will suffice.

What is interesting is that I no longer work inside the prison. I now work for a large warehouse company off of the prison grounds. I leave every morning and work around ‘civilians’ who are very well aware that, because of my orange jumpsuit, I am a prisoner. It is a surreal experience and I am having difficulty embracing it.

Mentally I know that if I was in regular clothing that there would be no issues at all because I would simply blend in. Few people would meet me and think silently to themselves: “he looks like he’s been in prison…” That said, the orange attire I must wear, has become my own version of the ‘Scarlet Letter’. There is simply no avoiding it. What is awkward are those moments when I must take an authoritative role with a civilian coworker. It feels inappropriate. 

Subconsciously, I think I have convinced myself that somehow, civilians are better than me because I am the one who has been imprisoned.  There is no telling whether or not it is right or wrong to feel this way, but it is how I feel.
As a whole, I am certain that my feelings are manifested by a whole slew of things I am going through. It is highly possible that I am being overly sensitive about it.


Friday, August 29, 2014

No one is exempt from experiencing tragedy in their lifetime. Whether it has been brought on by  one’s own doing or by the greater power of someone or something else, it can and will affect all of us at some point.

Never before arriving here at the North Unit of Florence, have I been told so much that I do not seem the type to be in prison. Mind you, this is usually a prelude to the inevitable inquiry as to what I have done and the expectation that there is a reasonable explanation. Normally I scoff at this type of manipulating banter as I know it is all so ridiculous. I am evolved and aware enough to realize that with a twist of fate, anyone could be sharing the prison cubicle next to me.

In my case, the greater majority of inmates and civilians that have heard, or are aware of my story, say that I got a ‘bad rap’. I cannot agree. Yes, it was an accident and yes, everyone involved partook in the bad decisions of that fateful night. That reality aside, I was responsible for an accident that took 3 lives. That crime, intentional or not, was a tragedy. And it is one that I played a role in. The 6 degrees of separation no longer applies because my involvement has, and continues to affect so many people.

Because of the poor choices I made on that one evening, people lost friends, siblings, children, uncles, aunts, nieces and nephews. The domino effect seems to be never ending for me.

There really is no argument to be had. I do belong in prison. And this is my tragedy.

‘New Guy on The Block’

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Tuesday marks my 27th day as a minimum level inmate. I was “rolled up”, loaded onto a van and driven across the state to a small town called Florence, Arizona which is located approximately 45 minutes outside of Phoenix on the southeastern side. I believe that I was truly ill-equipped to handle this particular change and, as you can see, it has taken near a month for me to get out a blog entry. Nevertheless, I am as situated as I am ever going to be and it is time to get back on the proverbial horse.

This particular facility is unlike any place I have ever been. It spans over a mile and is separated into 3 individual ‘yards’ which ae all connected by gateways. There are 1,500 inmates that live here and everyone of us has a release date. I am so accustomed to being around inmates who are serving life sentences or have been in prison for many, many years. Because of that reference point, I am in awe at how people behave here. There seems to be no structure, very little respect, and very minimal race or gang-related politics. This is odd to me and makes me realize how very institutionalized I really have become. In short, I have somehow evolved into a ‘convict’ and never even realized it.

I quickly realized that I was being avoided by almost everyone besides a small handful of inmates whom I already knew. When I inquired as to why most inmates were avoiding me, I was given an educational lesson. Apparently, I was being considered as violent, highly political and calculating. My reputation at Stiner in Buckeye (and other incredibly volatile facilities) had somehow manifested itself into the perception that I was a pretty serious ‘bad ass’. Inside, I chuckled about it, but when I was alone, I was disheartened by it. It is challenging to change people’s minds in here and I am not about to try. So I have accepted the fact that at least for now, I am flying solo for the most part. I am embracing it even though the whole point of coming to a minimum security facility was to re-establish some normalcy. That in mind – this is the least normal place I have been in some time.

For now, the inmates around me are on eggshells and I can hear their whispers behind my back. I know it. They know it. There is no point in confronting them because this is not the type of place for that. Additionally, that confrontational behavior is something in me that I am trying to change. Because of the peculiar nature of these inmates though, the staff and officers tend to be less patient, less respectful and often come across as well, rude. I am taken aback at how terribly they can treat the inmates here but I stop to put it into perspective and try to stay out of their way. I believe they must be completely jaded from dealing with DUI/drug offenders, auto thieves and other less violent, petty/mediocre criminals. I suppose they cannot help but to have a chip on their shoulders. The officers whom I am accustomed to dealing with however are very well aware of what the higher level inmates have done – and are still capable of. The fear that the inmate has ‘nothing to lose’ creates a certain level of awareness and mutual respect between officer and inmate that simply does not exist here.

At this facility though,. I am truly the new (yet old) kid on the block. I thought that after a few weeks, people would eventually warm up to me, but they have not. I shouldn’t care really… I don’t need new friends. I just wish I understood it better.

It pains me to say this, but at certain moments, I wish I was back on a medium security yard. Sad, but true.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

‘A Few Quotes I Like and Why I Love Them’

Thursday, July 25, 2014

“The capacity to admire others is not my most fully developed trait.” – Henry Kissinger
I could easily have said this today and have not even begun to address it – that is, if it needed addressing at all. More often than not, I do not admire other people. People are flawed, lost, confused and convoluted…. What’s to admire? Time to time, I feel pangs of envy, even jealousy but admiration? Not so much. I really don’t even know if I should view it as a bad thing? I believe that, since we are all flawed in some way, what is the point in admiring others? I spend a perverse amount of time analyzing myself and other people. We all have problems, strengths and weaknesses. Our flaws, accomplishments, challenges etc., they give us unique identities and make us all different. I cannot admire another person just for being different than I am. All of that said, when I do admire someone, it is a very unusual feeling for me.

“I love argument. I love debate. I don’t expect someone to just sit there and agree with me. That’s not their job.” – Margaret Thatcher
I cannot discount the fact that I love a good argument or debate so long as it is with a reasonably intelligent person. Mutual respect is key here and it is something that I have grown to accept and learn as I have grown older and matured. I have realized that most arguments and debates are best left asleep. I may love them, but it is a rare occasion that I experience a positive or productive outcome.

“Birth counts for nothing where virtue is absent.” Moliere; “The Story of Don Juan’
To be truly virtuous is impossible in my current environment. Inside, I try to be morally good because I still maintain a strong moral compass. I know the difference between right and wrong consistently try to do the right thing. I want to be a good man, at least as much as I can.

“The average healthy, well adjusted adult gets up at 7:30 in the morning feeling just terrible.” – Jean Kerr; ‘Please Don’t Eat the Daisies’
I am here to say that I wake up at 4:00 AM every morning and I feel great. It is around 7:30 AM, when everyone else gets up, that I feel terrible. Perhaps it’s all relative.

‘Image of Adonis’

Thursday, July 25, 2014
‘Image of Adonis’

Like the Turin Shroud with
Its image of the Adonis
His bench press holds
The tattoo of his body, each pose
Immortalized by a particular
Indentation, a stain of perspiration
I’ve slept without remorse or redemption
In beds that still hold the shapes of female lovers
The sky is gunmetal grey and getting darker
Today I want to bench press on that station
Just to inhale the scent of him, how I might howl
So much of the love is imagination: it’s over activity
It’s over ambitious, it’s over the top hopes
Is this what it means to be a person of faith?
He practices breath and poses, knows the variations
of each. Science tells us one version of the story,
Scripture another
When he is done, he sets the weight to rest and sits up,
His skin mottled, sweaty, his final meditation
A white fire on his tongue.