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.

‘A Brand New Day’

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Life in Florence is slowly becoming my new ‘normal’. My schedule is now full and I suppose, I should be thankful for that. Naturally I am a “go getter’ and prefer to stay busy. This particular schedule however, is giving me a run for the money.

04:00 – Wake up, pee, brush teeth, shower, write or blog
05:00 – Report to the sally port to leave the unit for work
06:00 – Report to work
17:45 – Leave work and travel back to the prison unit
18:30 – Work out, eat dinner, make phone calls, and shower
20:00 – Settle in for TV, read, write or socialize
22:00 – Fall asleep

The good news is that the days are flying by and I feel every day as I am going through it. I should embrace this right? I mean, I have one of the most highly sought after jobs that an inmate can have. I make a whopping $.80 cents an hour – which is the highest amount we can make. I’m healthy, in shape and have extraordinary support from the outside. Nobody really bothers me and I stay away from the nonsense. All of these things are good.

Still… if all of this is good, why am I so unhappy?

Life is funny. I have to acknowledge my own advice to other people and do something about my unhappiness. I have to figure out something or at least begin to really appreciate what I do have. I need a change because I refuse to stay in such a melancholy state of mind.

I know that finding my own version of ‘happy’ is possible. I have done it in much worse situations than this. I think I have become complacent with who I have become and this is my very real wake up call. I need to look at everyday as if it is truly a brand new day.

This is something I know that I can do

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.