Prison Pete

Monday, January 31, 2005
  Happy New Year.
Well, it is New Year's Day! This morning, "even" cells had inside Rec.

The TV was on CNN showing the tsunami coverage. It is good to see stories of individual acts of heroism. A German pilot landing on a damaged runway so he could repair it for more planes. I am sure I am not alone, but my whining and lack of creature comforts sure seems small at this point.

I wonder, if I was out right now, would I sign up to help? I would like to think so. Of course I might not be wanted, but hey, I have to believe my technical and organization skills could do wonders; and having no reason to stay in the USA right now, well, unless things move quickly and I do get out; but it is a moot point and I will not beat my breast and claim such mighty goals at this point.

As I lay in bed last night I was struck by one of the many ironies of prison.

Oops, we have this tiny Rec yard with a pintsized handball court against the building wall with windows and absolutely no room to walk around. I just asked the officer if you could take a book outside and he said no! So since I choose not to play handball, yeah, I do not care to prove to the world my lack of hand-eye coordination. I guess I will stay in my room this afternoon. I already left the inside Rec time early because I cannot sit (or stand) idle right now. Too much stuff flying around in the gray matter. It is a beautiful day out. Yeah I guess it sucks for skiing, but I have my window open and I am getting plenty of fresh air.

So back to the irony. I have received three different sets of rules. The first is a 3x5 sized thirty-two page booklet titled "Standards of Inmate Behavior All Institutions." It is actually two books, because on one side you get thirty-two pages in English; turn it over and then you get thirty-two pages in Spanish.

Rule 113.27
"An inmate shall not solicit, possess, or exchange any document which contains crime and sentence information pertaining to another inmate who is not a co-defendant without authorization from the Superintendent."

On page 24 of an 8½ x 11 rulebook specific to the rules at this institution, on the topic of Internet Website Information:
"Inmates are hereby notified that Internet web site information regarding other inmates is contraband and unauthorized. Any inmate found in possession of such information, starting three days from the date of this memo, may be charged with a violation of the Standards of Inmate Behavior, Rule 113.23 Contraband."

This book carries a revision date of July 2002. So to be sure, today is not in that three day window.

So for now I just get to lay sleepless in my bunk, pondering all of my life's errors, omissions, and grand fuck-ups and seek strength to carry on.

I am currently in a "sleep as last resort" mode. This does not mean I function till I drop; on the contrary, it means my body refuses to sleep until I am way past the point of tiredness and then it is sure to pull me back awake as soon as possible.

I spent some time last night or early this morning (I have no timepiece to judge by) lying in bed too tired to read but unable to get back to sleep. I am going to lie back down a bit now, since lunch is due to be served sometime in the next hour. I will continue the epic later this afternoon.

Methinks your zip is 11706 [Editor: Oops, it is not, not even close, and this letter took three weeks to reach me], so I will be able to mail this Sunday evening. I have gotten two rations of paper, used two of them including this page, so I will have six full pages left till tonight when I can get four more. So that is it for now.
Sunday, January 30, 2005
  Bathroom Restrictions.
Alas, there was no answer at Mom and Dad's and I do not have your cell number memorized. Besides, hopefully at 7:00 PM last night you were on your way home from a day of skiing. I thought of the odds of seeing you on the road as we passed through your town at around 7:00 AM. I saw a car or two with snowboards and an enclosed roof carrier, but they were not you.

Well it is now about 3:00 PM and the shift just changed. Dinner will follow soon. I hate not having anything to munch on. It is a long time to go from dinner to breakfast.

On the Murphy's Law side, I ended up eating my oatmeal cookie Wednesday evening at the county jail. I figured no way would I be transferred on Thursday. Ha, gotcha! I did have one last pack of M&M's so I ate that as I cleared out of my cell.

Three different guys got up to beg for my worldly possessions and I spread out my goods among four people.

Another limiting thing here is showers are restricted to ten minutes and only allowed on Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday. There is one shower adjacent to each group of six cells. You are allowed to shower if you get called down for a visit, but the rulebook points out that this cuts into your visiting time!

They also configure the toilet to flush only two times per hour. I am not sure if that is exactly one time every half hour or not. Oh, I just learned that you can flush twice in a row. But suffice it to say that having the shits could be a real olfactory joy!

I still cannot have a radio or any music. The typewriter thing is also not an option at this point. I think for now that you should simply hold all my letters and let us see what comes next. I would like to be able to write you some nice long letters and spend the time really writing and polishing stuff for the blog. Blog stuff can then be typed by those willing volunteers.

I managed to save Summer's last post about ADD and appeals. Here too I am thinking of doing some letter writing that you can just scan and email to her. I will write a little slower and hopefully neater.

Her question on ADD is thought provoking and while I do not have any direct experience with ADD drugs, I would like to kick the signs around with her. Provided you think you can scan and send my writing.

Now let us see, a story about your Dad. I wish I remembered more and I wish I had kept better contact once we moved, but hey, I was just a stupid kid and my parents certainly could not easily maintain the contacts with former church members. Another casualty of being a Pastor's kid.

To writ, I believe there was only one ski trip while I was living in Brooklyn. You guys did the inviting and your Dad picked me up in Brooklyn. We went to Silvermine (Bear Mountain) as I recall.

At the time we went I did not have any ski gloves so an older couple lent me a pair of wool dress gloves, the kind with the leather handprint on the palm. I guess they had a J-bar and T-bar, but I remember taking my first rope tow too.

I was behind you I think, and once the rope hit the steep part of the hill I loosened my grip and the rope started burning through the dress gloves. I fell, and the mess followed.
Saturday, January 29, 2005
  Chrome Dome.
Now sporting my new chrome dome, I finally made it to my housing init. I actually have a single cell! I have several Rec periods during the day when I can mix with others. At this point I have had one meal and two Rec periods. They have two inmates that act as "orderlies" and I gave one of them the four packs of sugar that came with my breakfast. Tomorrow I will offer him my coffee cup too, to at least show I might not be a bad guy.

The room is about the same size as the one in Club Fed and I can actually open the window! Methinks this means no AC, but for now that is not a problem and last night was the first time in eight and a half years that I actually had fresh air in my face as I slept! Well, sort of slept.

They have a bookcase with an eclectic selection, but the CO said you could send books in any time, so when you get the chance, let us try a test shipment, OK? That would also help me win some hearts, as I could put them in the bookcase as I finish them. I started reading Brass Ring by Diane Chamberlain. The opening chapter starts with the heading "Harpers Ferry, WV." Now that is really déjà vu.

Hey, I actually got four pages to write on. Since it is only lined on one side I am going to write on the four pages now. After dinner we have a Rec period from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM so I will probably watch the TV news for an hour and then come back to my room. As I said, I can get more paper at the start of Rec so maybe I can get eight pages.

I might be able to shop next week at the Commissary, but if not, I will have to wait two more weeks. We shop by proxy; we fill out a list and they deliver. I might be able to send you a sample Commissary list. I have an old one from September that one officer gave me, but the current one will not be out till Tuesday night.

Yes, I can get up to thirty-five pounds of foodstuff sent in per month. It can all be in one box or split into two smaller boxes adding up to thirty-five pounds. I can buy a hot pot for $13 and they actually sell cans of soup; one of them is clam chowder.

Actually the really cool thing is I can have fresh fruit and vegetables sent in. I was thinking of getting some nice grapefruit and maybe some carrots to munch on. I am still trying to figure out what is and what is not allowed, but I am putting dibs on a Toblerone bar.

As luck would have it, prices at the Commissary are very cheap. M&M's (plain or peanut) and Hershey bars are olny 37¢ each. Unfortunately, they do not sell mackerel or instant rice, and I am not sure if I can even get the rice sent in. They say nothing that needs "cooking" but the rice only needs boiling water and that is what the hot pot is for.

They actually drop newspapers off each morning it seems, provided you have a subscription. I am going to ask my Dad to check out getting me the New York Times. That would certainly give me plenty of daily reading material.

BTW, do not worry about getting any phone calls from me; I can make only one five-minute call every two weeks, and currently my scheduled telephone time is Friday nights at 7:00 PM. I lucked out that last night. I got my one shot at my arrival call (also only five minutes) and then I get to go over tonight again for my regular biweekly phone call.
Friday, January 28, 2005
  "Live" From NY State Prison.
Well, I have been inspected, questioned, swabbed, injected, and siphoned. I spent the first three hours in a cell by myself. It really was a bare cell, just a room with no toilet and no water. They eventually pulled me out and had me sit on a bench in the center of the room.

This "special treatment" went on as I was told to strip down to my underwear and forced to throw out my clothes, even though supposedly if you had money, you could have sent them home. I was put in a COLD shower and then got the bald hair cut.

The damn shame is that my size 11 EEEEEE boots were also thrown out. They were only a few months old and cost about $200. As it turns out, they did not have any shoes to fit me, so I am wearing size 14 low-cut "Keds" lace up sneakers.

I am feeling a little better writing this to you now. I still have the damned clogged sinuses and my sleep cycles are screwed up. I have a headache that may be partially from the clogged sinuses, plus partly from lunch.

Lunch was egg salad and packaged macaroni salad, and I think it had MSG in it. MSG is the only thing that I found brings on wicked headaches when I eat processed foods. My oatmeal and mackerel diet left little room for such stuff and one wonders if you build up resistance to it or what?

But hey, I am also experiencing major league stress and loneliness, so do you think that might have an effect on me too?

They will provide me with free paper and five stamps a week for the first thirty days here. But they are only giving out three sheets of this paper at a time and I can only get it twice a day. I will try to get a few extra sheets tonight so I can write more.

I should have your address burned into my brain, but for some reason your zip code escapes me! I had your address written on the inside of my brown folder that was holding my legal work, but this time the CO at the county jail tossed it out and put my seventy-five pages of case research in a paper bag. Another perfectly good plan shot to hell!

My letters to you do go out from my cell sealed, but I am not sure about incoming mail. I know they open them, but they do not specify if that is just to check for contraband or if they also read incoming mail.

One point for all blog postings in the short term: I have decided to not rant about any staff. I would like to commend those staff that offer the cup of kindness, but as far as any negatives, I will confine those reports to my letters to you for historical purposes only.
Thursday, January 27, 2005
  Prison Pete on the Move.
[Editor] I noticed a lot of references from Atheist Rants & Rages recently, so I surfed on over. There was a post about Pete and I commented there. I thought I would reprint and expand upon those comments here.

To answer the question regarding the Christmas time delay, Prison Pete's blog postings are normally about two weeks behind the date of his letters to me. However, I was away on vacation the last two weeks of December, and during that time Pete wrote me six handwritten letters averaging eight pages each.

Since then I received an additional eleven letters, all handwritten! He doesn't have much else to do besides sleep, read, and write.

All of his letters do eventually get typed, but I have not caught up and the blog is still running about four weeks behind. It was much easier for me when Pete had regular access to a typewriter and all I had to do was scan his typed letters into an OCR program to produce machine-readable text.

Up until recently I typed all of these handwritten letters myself, and then several kind blog readers responded to my pleas for help and volunteered to type some of Pete's letters. This has helped a lot, but I still spend a significant amount of my time editing the typed letters before posting anything on the blog. I remove personal references and change all names to protect the innocent (or the guilty).

It is an awful lot of work for me, and though I have complained about it several times lately, I would like the blog to continue so I am hanging in there, but am not doing as much for Pete as I used to do.

I currently have seven letters waiting to be typed. Any volunteers?

As for Pete, as of the beginning of January 2005 Pete is no longer in the county jail and has been transferred into the NY State Prison system. Unfortunately, in the move Pete lost his address book.

You would think by now that he would know my address by heart, but alas, the first two letters he wrote to me from NY State prison he used the wrong zip code. It took three weeks for these letters to reach me, and I guess it is lucky that I received them at all.

The second of these letters, the first one written from his new home, I just received yesterday. So now with these letters to type, I am even further behind in the posting schedule.

The other problem caused by the missing letters is that for about ten days I did not know Pete had moved. I have since learned that NY State prison inmates have extremely limited (for all practical purposes, nonexistent) phone privileges, so he was unable to call me and tell me that he had moved.

This disconnect between us resulted in me continuing to send books and letters to the county jail where he had been. My letters were eventually "Returned to Sender" after about a week in transit, but the books were refused and returned to me with postage due.

I am not the world's greatest typist, and I spent several hours today typing the first of the two "missing letters." I hope to start posting from them in the next day or two. I would rather have a slight delay than have the blog get out of chronological order. Be patient, I will eventually catch up.

So now Pete is serving NY State time and yes, I believe he is being punished twice for the same crime. I don't know how this is possible either, but he is hopeful that the recent Supreme Court ruling (see UNITED STATES v. BOOKER [04-104]) will help his situation.

At best, he could be released immediately (but would still be on Federal probation); at worst, well, he often says things can always be worse, but I think that his current situation in this regard already is the worst, and he would not be eligible for parole until November 2009.
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
  Vibe awards.
Shoot me now! It is 8:00 PM on Wednesday evening and the Vibe awards are being replayed on UPN 9. This is the show that had the brawl while they were filming it. All that great publicity!

The natives are actually trying to guess who will win the awards. "This is the shit Nigga!" Ah, such great wit.

Three or four of them are "singing" the songs as they play the clips. But each one is singing a different clip all at the same time. Thankfully the CO just walked by and turned it down.

I finished the second book, Luke Ashcroft's Woman, and am starting number three, Wild Orchards by Jude Deveraux.

I spent part of my Rec time today helping another inmate get a handle on his case. He is charged with bilking an 82-year-old woman out of over $50,000. He is a "minister" and claims she knew what was happening. He took most of the money by having her get cash advances on her previously unused credit cards. An alert bank employee noticed her large cash withdrawals and called the cops. It is an interesting case though, so let us see what happens with him.

There is too much noise now to write, so let me try and read some more. "That's my favorite shit." That certainly sums it up.

It is now around 9:30 PM and I guess I should be grateful this award show is only two hours wrong. Oops, that should be long.

The "air" in here is really stagnant. Since the weather has improved and it has gotten warmer they have not had the heat on since the wee hours of the morning. So my question is, where the hell is the "new air" coming from? Or rather, not coming from?

I definitely need to go out tomorrow. I am really beginning to lose perspective.

Sorry I do not feel more verbose. Ah, something the world has been waiting for, a speechless Pete. Sorry, I will add some more tomorrow.

Now today is Thursday and I finally got a pen and some paper. I still only have one pair of underwear (briefs) and I washed them when I showered tonight. So for now I am "freeballing" is how I believe Kramer once described it. That certainly qualifies as too much information. But I thought I should get as much bang for my buck. Ha ha.

I found out that I will definitely have the ability to have my own typewriter once I get upstate. Cool. That will make the job of blog posting a simple scan and post. OK, maybe we will still do some minor editing.

So please standby for a few weeks and things will pick up. In the meantime I am keeping some rough notes so you will all be brought up to date. I have lots of interesting stuff to tell.

P.S. Damn, I got moved to another cell again last night.
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
  Nineteen Hours.
I received a letter from my editor about typing help yesterday at 4:00 PM. Also in the mail I received five paperbacks and ended up finishing Christina Dodd’s "Almost Like Being In Love" sometime in the wee hours of the morning.

It is now 10:30 AM and my laundry just came back. Right before the return of the laundry, commissary was delivered and I have already munched down a 400 calorie Drake’s Apple Fruit Pie. I ordered a few extra M&Ms so I will be able to splurge a bit over the next three days. Friday will bring another bag of goodies.

So for now I have three mackerel pouches, two 1.5 ounce bags of pretzel, five 1.74 ounce bags of M&M peanuts, one 2.75 ounce pack of Lindens big oatmeal and raisin cookies to spread over the next three days.

The way laundry works is you get two net bags, one for white stuff, and one for green stuff. They pick the bags up at 6:00 AM each Tuesday and in today’s case, return two slightly damp but fresh smelling and clean bags back at 10:30 AM.

Since I read all night, this morning would have been a great time to sleep in, but since my sheets, blanket and towel used as pillow were all in the wash, lying down on the naked vinyl foam mattress was not an appealing option. Now that I have gotten my laundry back and the commissary has been delivered, once I am done writing this I will catch up on some much needed sleep.

The activities of the last nineteen hours have sort of exhausted my "outside sensory experiences" till Friday. One other thing. I finally got through to my Mom and Dad on the phone and was able to exchange Christmas greetings. So now it is back to bed and more reading. OK, it’s probably a little tough to read through closed eyelids.

Actually it is now a little after 11:00 AM and lunch is on the way so I will add that to the end of this post and start on more musing from my humble abode.

Well, lunch was two hot dogs, two slices of wheat bread, one pack of mustard, sauerkraut, and a scoop of baked beans. Yum Yum!

So as the second Jerry Springer show of the day drones on in the background, I will do the read and doze thing till around 3:30 PM when my three hours of out of cell time starts.
Monday, January 24, 2005
  Later on Monday, 9:30 PM.
I just watched some Monday night football, took my shower, and called Mom and Dad. They are doing OK. They spent Christmas at home. They came into New York City on Sunday, saw the tree at Reckefeller Center, and took in a show on Broadway. See, they can drive to NYC but could not figure out a way to visit me? Never mind.

The bad news is they have received no mail for me. Club Fed sucks; I gave them my parent's address as my forwarding address, but they are not forwarding my mail. I am really pissed off about that. So now I need to find the address for the NY Appeals Court and let them know that I moved.

Dad did ask if I needed more money and it felt good to tell him I was OK for a bit. I told him there was not really much to spend it on. They did ask if I got the Christmas card from their friends. I told them how special it was. Hint Hint. But they did not say anything about their card.

I have read 102 pages of 375 in Dodd’s "Almost Like Being In Love." Damn, the hot air heat is on too much again, drying out my mouth and chest. Got to get them to turn it off.

10:30 PM and I actually got the heat turned off. I took some puffs on my inhaler too.

The problem with the heat is there is a real uneven distribution system. Near my end of the tier it is easily ten degrees warmer. Another improperly installed vent system.

I still do not understand why the circulating fan cannot run 24/7 and have heating or cooling kick in per thermostat. This system here is: you want air, you get heat; it's all or nothing. The real Catch-22 of course is that germs thrive better in warm air.

Damn, they already turned the heat back on. Argh! And now, they already turned down the lights. Tomorrow morning is laundry so I will have to strip my bed at 6:00 AM and wait till noon to get my sheets and blankets back.

I will hopefully be able to do some more writing, but I will be reading tonight. The emotional high of letters and books from you and the call with Mom and Dad is a lot to handle at once. I finished my last M&Ms two hours ago, so now I have to wait till tomorrow morning for the next delivery, provided they do not pull me out in the morning. Well, good night for now.

It is now morning and I only know that it is not yet 6:00 AM since breakfast is not here, but I finished the book just now. With my luck they will pull me out in a bit, but I hope not. If this letter ends here, they did.

Well, it is now 8:00 PM on Tuesday and yes, I am still here in the county jail.

I just got back from the law library and typed a short letter to the Federal Judge notifying him of my change of address. I did some more searching and still have no new information. I am halfway through a second book. I do not think I will be up too late tonight as I have not had all that much sleep today.

The heat situation here is really driving my lungs crazy. But as they say, "That which does not kill us, makes us stronger."

So, I am hopefully going to get to see First Wives Club on USA tonight and will be able to actually hear it. I am thinking it is a good movie but, after the first or second commercial break, I usually lose interest. Plus, I now have three more books to read.
Sunday, January 23, 2005
  What joy!
I got the five books you sent and your letter. You will have gotten some more stuff from me and I am grateful for the letter. It is truly a lesson in patience when one or both of us expresses a problem and how the delay of snail mail lengthens the call and response.

The main difference now that I am in the county jail is that I am so isolated that I have few to no other resources to help either divert my attention or deal with an issue on my own. True this is certainly not your problem or in any way related to you, but I am finding that the positive side to having varied resources is to be able to help one deal with life. At this point my only resources are writing and reading, neither of which provide an instant type of feedback.

So as I write this letter to you now I am feeling ten feet tall and truly blessed to hear from you, I will calm down and send some more coherent stuff. It is hard to explain specifically, but since some of it is not easy to write, the strength to do so comes from the friendship I feel we have built.

I do not want to sound too mushy, but it means a lot to me to be able to say things and not feel like I am in a locker room bragging contest or looking for pity. To be able to share myself with you is something my time in prison has taught me to treasure.

I do not mind you posting your concerns to the blog in the least and I hope you actually drew some strength from the positive feedback you have received. It amazes me that in this era of cold, unemotional, non-personal type of "me first" existence, the blog has unearthed some truly warm fuzzy types. The fact that they may be a small number in relation to the total hits just adds to the fact how special these people are.

Fear Factor is on now, dinner was beef stew, but I got the bland plate, ditched the boiled beef and mixed my mackerel with the mixed veggies and plain rice. I passed up the mystery meat patty for lunch and had a PB&J sandwich instead. One must watch what one eats.

I have not been outside now in over seven days and the only way I know about the snow is through the TV. All the windows are frosted solid. Frosted not by ice, but permanently so.

So now unfortunately I do not have any envelopes to mail this out tonight so it will have to wait until the commissary opens tomorrow. Summer (Cindy) raises two great issues in her post about ADD and appeals. So that should keep me busy on the writing front.

But for now I think I will dive into one of the books you sent.
Saturday, January 22, 2005
The massive loss of life as a result of the tsunami in the Indian Ocean made me dream of an alternate military strategy. Imagine if we actually turned our swords into ploughshares and could now mobilize more than 100,000 troops, all the supplies, vehicles, tents and technology, (minus all the ammunition) and go into all the areas hit by the massive wall of water.

The water did not discriminate, rich or poor, old or young, religions, creed, color, or even star power. Yes even my 6’ by 7’ cell looks like a mansion compared to some of the pictures and stories I have seen so far.

But imagine if all of a sudden from the skies and upon the shores, the Red, White, and Blue of the great USA started landing. And instead of having our young men and women be in fear of their lives and have to kill fellow human beings, they would be providing all kinds of urgently needed humanitarianism. Think of the billions of dollars these troops would have at their fingertips.

I venture to say if this is what the world could look toward the USA for, I doubt any rouge nation or terrorist cell could get one iota of support to bring hostile action against us. Just sit back, close your eyes and picture the photos of our young people reaching out and helping those poor people. As Louis Armstrong says, "What a wonderful world that would be!"

Now that your eyes are back open, well we already blew the billions of dollars, our young people are being wounded and killed, and yes it seems that a large portion of the world hates our guts. We have sent some planes with relief supplies and allocated a few million dollars, but wouldn’t it be nice if we could do more?
Friday, January 21, 2005
  Macy*s Eats Its Words.
Prior to Christmas, Macy*s department store made all the news shows in New York City with the news that they were dropping "Merry Christmas" from their ads and asked staff to wish customers "Happy Holidays" so as not to offend anyone.

But along comes December 26th and guess who is running "After Christmas Sales?"

Yes, Macy*s strikes again! Free advertising prior to the "Holiday Season."

Further proof that news is not really news any longer.
Thursday, January 20, 2005
  Christmas in prison.
Well, Christmas is almost all gone. Our Rec time today is from 3:30 PM to 6:30 PM. I have showered, washed a set of white wash, gotten a new roll of toilet paper, took a few hits on my inhaler and now at 5:15 PM, I am all set for the night.

Lunch was actually not too bad: two slices turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, and a slice of pound cake for desert. Dinner was a tuna fish hero sandwich, but with my clogged nose I could not taste much anyway. That was sort of a good thing.

Just a reminder for future use, they have hold-to-get-water buttons in the shower stall. If you mold enough of "state soap" over the button it stays pushed in. I prefer using a piece of plastic from a cup as a wedge to keep the button pushed in. Why don't they just put in a single valve or at least a timer button? You try showering in a 3' X 3' stall with one hand always on a button! But inmates always figure out a way to keep the button in anyhow.

Then there is the use of TP rolls under the front legs of the CO chairs to get them to tilt back a little. More tax dollars wasted! Today as I took my shower at 1:30 PM, I overheard a more senior officer explaining to the new trainee that his two best friends were toilet paper and the roll of brown paper towels.

He went into great detail about how to position the TP to get the best slant on the chair, and then continued about the proper placement of the paper towel roll behind the neck to allow proper resting.

He also said that during the midnight shifts you should loosen your shoes and take them off since your feet tend to swell at night. Yes, this is all part of the CO training program!

One final word of wisdom he imparted was based on which side of the tier you are working. You can put your stocking feet up on the desk, but be sure that you have your outside leg on top as you cross your legs. This way if you have to stand up fast, you will not get your feet tangled!

I am not sure what is the worst part of this discussion: the blatant discussion of obviously illegal work practices and waste of taxpayer property, or that these somewhat simplistic issues have to be taught and are not picked up by simply observing the more seasoned officers in action, or inaction, as the case may be.

Excuse me, I was just checking with the tier rep on the status of my position on the PB&J list. I have not had a bowl since Tuesday. But then again if I do not have it, more calories saved!

I wonder if I will be moved this week. I am sure this is still a prime vacation and sick-out time, and Friday is another legal holiday. Well, it does not really matter since they know where I am and when they say "Roll up!" I have little choice but to the roll up.

I got some emotional punishment yesterday as I watched Liar, Liar on USA. The story is about a father (Jim Carey) who breaks every promise to his son. Yeah, then Big Daddy with Adam Sandler heaps some more emotional stuff on the joys of fatherhood. At least I know I am still alive, because it hurts to think too deeply about those shows. Just in case you forget or otherwise think I have no remorse for my actions or fail to understand the depth of hurt I have caused others. Obviously to me, if my kids also watch any of the "fatherhood" movies, they too feel the pain I have caused them. Yeah, sometimes life just keeps hitting you in the face!

Well, enough of my ramblings for now. Let me mail this off tonight and see what this week brings.
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
  Christmas Eve in prison.
So this is Christmas! I have tried to hide from it. Reading the Killing the Shadows book is a great diversion, but...

It is 4:00 PM or so and dinner will be here shortly. I actually received one Christmas card along with $25 from some friends of my parents. It was really heartwarming to know they took the time and trouble to see that I got the card.

I also received a letter (via Mom and Dad) from my friend Dave who I think is still doing Federal time. He is a former state prison guard, so his comments about standing up to evil are from years of firsthand knowledge. He is actually serving state time but is in the Feds for his own protection.

The odd part is that my Dad went through the motions of mailing Dave’s letter to me, but he did not bother to send me a Christmas card. I have only received two letters from them since I have been here in the county jail. Yeah, I know, I am the bad seed.

I am basically writing this letter to capture my thoughts for posterity. I am not sure of your desire to read them but I ask that you not take them personally.

I am operating in the dark having not heard from you in a while. Again, I am not holding you responsible for my funk, but it is sort of awkward writing to you. I hope it is not pissing you off further if you are somehow really done dealing with me. Yet as I hope to still write about my experience someday, you are the only one I can write to.

The TV is on the Green Bay/Vikings game and Christmas Eve dinner is done. Dinner was a salmon patty. Luckily my clogged nose limits the aroma, but some of the smell still got through. I should have had the usual and mixed my mackerel with the rice. Oh well, you win some, you lose some, and some you get pissed on.

So I feel a little better just writing out my feelings. The Killing the Shadows book has lots of uplifting relationship stuff male/female-wise, and maybe some day I will be able to use some of it. Who knows?

Leaving Club Fed when I did, I have essentially missed all Christmas music except for the stupid use of same on the TV commercials. I would certainly have heard the Messiah, Prairie Home Companion's pre-Christmas shows, the Winter Solstice show broadcast from St. John the Divine in NYC. Tonight I would have tried to catch the midnight mass from St. Patrick’s that usually was on one of the NYC AM stations. In addition, the WV public FM stations would carry one or two Christmas Eve services live too. But instead I have football and ONE Christmas card.

I do have my commissary with the "sausage" and cheese I ordered. I have to be sure not to pig out too much. For some reason I ordered four M&M’s which will only allow me one a day from Friday through Monday. I do have two Kit Kats, but I did not order the cookies. I do not know what I was thinking.

Of course I cannot just run out to 7-Eleven and pick up some more party supplies. Some soda would be nice, but as your Dad used to say, "It’s poor man’s Gatorade for me." Ah, where is the eggnog?

I now realize that I have essentially had a clogged nose since I arrived here. Maybe I should try to get some antibiotic since it may be a sinus infection. Maybe I am just allergic to jail! Ha ha!

Today on TV we had Jerry Springer and Maury Povich shows for four straight hours. I managed to doze off for a couple of hours only to awaken to the football game. So now that chow is done, the next thing will be our Rec at 7:30 PM. I will probably just take a shower and come back and lie down. I am not sure what they will put on TV, but I do not have hope of it being anything worth watching.

So let me read some more. I will also write a thank you note to my parent's friends and I might write a note to Dave. Since he is in Fedville, I need to keep out direct references to what is going on.

It is 11:30 PM or so. and I ate the sausage and cheese. It was not Prosciutto and fresh mozzarella, but it is the thought that counts. Yeah, right.

So now in the silence that occurs here each night I will read and probably finish the last of Killing the Shadows. Christmas Eve reading it is not, but then again it does not really feel much like Christmas right now.
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
  No mail and I am lonely.
6:30 PM and it’s lonely in here. This is also the longest lock-in cycle since my Rec ended at 10:30 AM, and we do not get out till 6:30 AM tomorrow (Friday). Not that it matters much since the only thing I do on the Rec is shower.

I hate the lack of mail and other contact after over six years at Club Fed. This is a hell of a time for you to become silent. This is only mentioned for future archive purposes, to remind me of lonely times.

Okay, sure, you read it. But, at this point you seem to be pretty much immune from my whining. I know you give me plenty of support and it is not your responsibility to match my ups and downs. The downside is I am both the observer and the observed. Hey, if a prisoner makes a joke and no one hears it, is it still a joke? See what happens when my mind and spirit is deprived of any positive stimulation?

Some of the noisier ones have left, but I am not sure what their replacements will be. The good news is MTV has preempted the countdown shows for this time period, so we do not have all that noise.

I am reading a great book Killing the Shadows by Val McDermid. It is a murder mystery type but it has a lot of female relationship type stuff. I am off to read some more.

I just finished reading today’s NY Daily News and NY Newsday. Martha is sending more stuff from Alderson. She bitches about the food. Duh. For her that is no surprise.

The other thing of course is lack of my magazines, no junk mail, and it is way past my three week shrink meeting. Talk about withdrawal with a strong dose of sensory deprivation.

We are due to visit the law library sometime tonight or tomorrow. I skipped the Rec yard today in case they called law library at the same time, which they did two weeks ago. So the time drags on.

Well, tomorrow should still be a mail day so maybe I will get a letter? Who knows. I think I will mail this letter tonight so you should receive it the beginning of next week. Sorry it is sloppy but I am too stressed right now.

Okay, 9:00 PM and time to put some final lines on this and get someone to put it in the mailbox at the end of the tier. I finished my oatmeal cookie pack and M&M bag earlier tonight so I think I might use the last 6 oz. Ritz with some peanut butter and my last half pint of milk.

The book is still a real page turner, though I do not see how one could read any book without turning the pages. I am on page 200 of 480, so I do not think I will finish it tonight.

I still have no idea what is up with you since I have not received anything, but I trust you are busy doing the job of dad/husband/hockey coach/son/brother/frat brother. So, sometime soon I assume I will get a few minutes of your time. It must be nice to have such a busy life. Yeah, I am jealous but then again I sort of put myself where I am so I am not looking for pity (too much).

Hey, I’m just glad to have some money from Mom and Dad to buy some comforts, and this paper, pen, and stamped envelopes to reach out and let you know I am only wishing you all the best and (Argh, one more sheet).

There was an article about NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg finally showing up to visit that teacher in Harlem who purchased laptops for his class. The Mayor came empty handed. Well, what could a billionaire buy for the school class that has nothing? But somebody did send four additional computers. I forget now if it was Apple or Dell or something else.

Another thought is maybe getting Martha to fund a prisoner support system. A few of those millions that Martha made in a recent stock sale. BTW, I noticed she sold a bunch of stock recently and as soon as the paperwork was filed, the price started to drop. Like I always told my fellow inmates, there is no way any of the billionaires could ever convert all or a lot of their stock into the same amount of cash.

Well, that is it for now.
Monday, January 17, 2005
  Tier Rat.
Well it is tomorrow. 9:30 AM. The gates opened at 7:30 AM but I waited till they re-opened at 8:30 AM and showered and shaved (once a week) and then had to wait till the gates opened again at 9:30 AM.

So now that I can get in the cell, I am not going to call home. I tried yesterday but no one was home. It is too early and would be not worth much if I catch them half awake.

The tier rat thing got messy last night. One of the guys that was out for his Rec came down to torment the rat in cell 36. He threw water through the bars and then slid down in front of my cell.

The rat reached through the bars and tossed milk that ended up splashed on the bars of my cell. I had to wash the bars down to prevent the milk from drying and stinking up my cell.

This morning they started in with him again. Finally they are pulling him out. I wonder if they will trash him as he walks down the tier. The one tough guy is not here now though.

The TV is on Jerry Springer, then Montel, then another Springer. Good thing I scrounged up a few books. I am going to go read some. More to follow, though as I guess you can tell, without many intelligent life forms to engage with there is not much to write about. True, Club Fed was not known for its smarts, but here my lack of any interaction with anything human leaves me with little to write.

Plus, I am having a hard time getting into the "what I can do in the future" mood right now. A lame excuse, true, but with no incoming mail, little or no national or international news; well, there is just not a lot to write. Without much emotional support stuff (NPR, microwave cooking, walking in the Rec yard with Mike, it is also tough to write about emotional stuff.

It’s not easy to open those doors without a good escape plan. True, you wrote about feeling USED, but at least you could dive into any number of things to change your mood. So, no I am not faulting you at all. I am just trying to share where I am at.

You can do what you like with the blog. I have always appreciated all the work you have done on my behalf and I have no problem with you letting it go. Just drop me a line once in a while and if it is not too much trouble, you can load up the envelope with blog stuff for me to read.

I do not know exactly where we are at, but having not heard at all from you in a while, well, the silence is killing me. Okay, not killing, but hey it is sort of dark and lonely in here.
Sunday, January 16, 2005
  The Snitch.
Well, 8:00 PM and things are tweaking here. One older guy was just carted out on a stretcher after slipping in his cell. Could he have busted a hip?

Now the snitch in cell 36 (two doors down from me) is talking shit while he’s locked in, and one of the four guys out for their Rec is playing tough guy on the outside of his bars.

They shut the TV’s off when the guy fell and they are still off. I thought there may have been a shot at seeing the rebroadcast of the two-hour season premiere of LOST per your good reviews, but no such luck.

So no mail again today and my attempt to call Mom and Dad was met by the answering machine. So no contact with the outside. I doubt I will go out tomorrow, but then again stranger things have happened. The wheels of the criminal justice system move in very strange and unusual ways.

I was thinking again about the various stupid ways in which the prison system operates. Two examples here are the TV’s and the peanut butter and jelly (PB&J).

The TV’s are in the outer walkway about five feet from the "Day Area." Being the creative people that prison inmates are, they make remote controls out of newspaper, rolled tightly to form a four-foot long "stick". Labels from cosmetic bottles are used as tape to hold them together. They are used to reach through the bars and change channels and volume. But every time there is a shakedown or if a CO sees it, they take it.

The peanut butter and jelly works as follows: Each morning the breakfast cart comes with three bowls of peanut butter and three of jelly. They also send three loaves of bread. So, one gets to "load up" once every three or four days and then has something to eat when hunger strikes. Picture twenty different guys making PB&J sandwiches at 5:30 AM, each with a dirty spoon, etc.

The snitch thing is blowing up, and the outside gangster is threatening his life. Now the CO is talking shit to him. Telling him to shut up and get lost. Life is tough in jail.

The point is, even with "supervision," shit still happens. Now the CO is telling the outside gangster to stay away, followed by a remark to the guy in the cell, "You deserve everything you get!" Talk about mixed messages.

Well, someday this will be all behind me. The book should be fun to write.

This all is allowed to exist only because very few people want to know. I am not saying some of us do not deserve jail time but must we also be forced to risk life, limb, and long term health due to unhealthy conditions? Then again, this is my world and welcome to it.

It is really hard for me to sit idly by and watch man’s inhumanity to man. At least I have learned enough to know to keep my mouth shut and not try to be a peace keeper. Of course that points to the problem. Once one goes through the experience of jail or prison and experiences the changes, i.e. different life coping skills, how can one go on to function in the real world?

On the lighter side, dinner tonight was actually pretty tasty, four large stuffed shells. I drained the oil off the mackerel and spread it on top of the shells. I am well stuffed but I will probably still have a PB&J with the milk I saved from lunch.

Comfort food. I have actually been nibbling on the M&M pack since 4:00 PM. Big deal after eating four packs yesterday (two M&Ms and two Kit Kats).

I will probably hold off till tomorrow to mail this. I am going to try and do some reading now.
Saturday, January 15, 2005
  False alarm.
I will only mail this letter if I ship out in the morning.

I pigged out on two Kit Kats and two M&M's plus the usual 6:00 AM two-pack of oatmeal cookies. I have done no walking for the past three days, so I really socked it to the old healthy eating thing today. This also means my sugar content in the old bod must be a little on the high side. Duh, you think?

The cool thing about this time of day is the amazing quiet. The TV's are off, there is some scattered cell-to-cell chatter on the opposite side, but it is very quiet now.

They have a dimmer for the lights (I never realized you could dim fluorescents till I came here) and tonight so far the CO has left the light level higher than usual. It is actually fairly bright, so I can see clearly for a bit. Usually it is darker, light enough that I can just barely read, but not light enough to write or work on the puzzles.

So for now I will try to finish a couple of the puzzles, and then rip out the finished pages and have them ready to go if I get moved in seven hours. Off to puzzle land I go.

I am still working. My brain is really clicking. They just dimmed the lights some more but it is still lighter than it was last night.

It amazes me how sometimes my brain just looks at these puzzles and sees nothing, but then like now it seems to be really moving along. If I could bottle it, whatever "it" is, I could really be a wealthy man.

OK, my brain has lost what it had. I got screwed up on the second puzzle. I should probably use pencil for these. I dropped down to the second puzzle and just ran out of gas. If tonight or I should say, if this morning is the time they move me, you will get both puzzles, or else I will draw them out and try tomorrow.

For now it is reading time till I doze off.

TTFN, sometime after midnight.

P.S. OK, this was only a test. It is now Wednesday noon and I am still stuck in the county jail. So let me try to work on the puzzles some more.
Friday, January 14, 2005
  New visuals.
When I arrived here last month as I was sitting in Medical getting processed in, I was six feet away from three nice, svelte, cute women of Asian descent. Only one spoke English.

While I was getting a breath treatment, two of them went right inside an office with the doctor. He was speaking to the one English-speaker about the other woman's high blood pressure.

Sure enough, on the TV news that evening there was a report that they had busted a local massage parlor. Ah, so close and yet so far!

Yes, just confirming I am definitely still heterosexual here. Actually, it was sort of nice to get some new visuals in my head for the old self-care, vis-à-vis my solo sex life. Ha ha.
Thursday, January 13, 2005
  Cell Graffiti.
I have been meaning to send a page of the cell graffiti, so let me do that now.

I might grab da 9
or I might grab the duece
An when I wanna go 2 war
is when you wanna call a truce

If you want a life changing letter
open your Bible and read a letter from god

You gotta B strong 2 survive
Cause they win when your soul dies

A coward dies a thousand deaths
A soldier dies but once

To the world you might
only B one person
But to one person
you may B the world

Man make Da $
$ Don't Make Da Man
The world is mine

The Good die young
I guess us grimey Niggas
live a long time

Wednesday, January 12, 2005
It is Monday 5:00 PM here and we just had a shakedown. Kind of impressive. About twenty CO's plus another five or six in full riot gear, motorcycle helmets, body armor, etc.

They took my box. You are allowed to have one cardboard box, but they took mine anyhow. Also, they took my half pint of milk I was saving from lunch. I had a few slices of bread left and that was considered "contraband" so that is gone too.

I wonder if I will leave tonight, but perhaps the snow will have an adverse effect. I cannot see out at all, so I have no idea how much snow is here. Maybe we will see the 6:00 PM news? It does look like there are those little "drifts" in the corners of the windows but that is the most I can see.

I have one pack of mackerel plus the oatmeal cookie pack. So without any bread or milk, I am snack-less tonight. Murphy's Law states that if I eat the cookies tonight, I will get yanked out in the morning; if I save them, I will stay.

But don't shed too many tears, my commissary comes again in the morning and I ordered two Kit Kats to go with the four M&M's. I did have two packs two out of four days, so today was M&M-less. Tough life here in the county jail.

I ate my last mackerel pack mixed with white rice and some kernel corn. I am stuffed now. So I wonder if I will leave tonight? Our Rec time is 7:30 AM to 10:30 AM today, so I will take a shower a little later.

I am back and I did. The following is written Tuesday, 1:30 PM.

I managed to put off eating the oatmeal cookies last night, but when I was awakened for breakfast, I ate them. I did receive a new bag of goodies and now I have a new pack of cookies. I have already finished one Kit Kat and am munching on M&M's as I write this. Oh, I did buy four envelopes this time.

Someone gave me a puzzle book with a variety of types: logic, word find, crossword, and my favorite, the number crossword. I will send two completed puzzles, when I complete them, that is.

One of the inmates here gets regular visitors and always comes back with all the day's newspapers: Newsday, NY Daily News, and the NY Post. So I read them all, showered, and then was trying to watch a half hour of Seinfeld on FOX, but it is so noisy here that I couldn't even hear the dialog.

I got a new book Killing the Shadows by Val McDermid.

I still have no idea if I am traveling tomorrow, but I now have extra envelopes so you will get one with "GONE" on the outside if and when I do go.
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
  Future of the blog?
Well, it is now 8:30 PM. I just took my shower and we are locked back in for a count. The gates will open back up around 9:00 PM, but for some reason they close the gates again after five minutes. So you are either out or in for a full hour. You have a three-hour window with gates opening each hour.

So I hope I have made it clear that while we do not have equal access to the same resources, I have worked hard to give you my time. I know some of my letters left a lot to be desired, but I will continue to improve and share myself with you.

And have no fear; I understand once in a while you need to maybe direct some anger my way. It is better to get it out in the open and see if I can understand what you are feeling, and maybe I can share some thoughts (I think the word here might even be "empathy") and we can move forward. I ask only that you do remember that you have saved my sanity on more than one occasion and for that I am eternally grateful and will hopefully always live up to being a trusted friend to you in the future.

If you need a break from the blog, maybe we should post a note that the blog is taking a break and will return shortly? I assume that once I get upstate and get a typewriter with some minimal memory, I can prepare blog-ready copy and you can just scan and post. That is, if you are willing to do it. If not, that is fine also.

Also, do not sweat typing any of these letters. Just scan. It will keep me busy once I get upstate to type anything you have not typed by now. So please take time to do what you need to do and want to do.

I am always thinking of you and your family, and as long as you drop me a line once in a while and go ahead and send some blogs too, that will just have to hold me for now.
Monday, January 10, 2005
  I want my NPR!
Hello again, it is now 3:30 PM. Lunch came, I started watching The District and then JAG, but I went out to walk, another hour power-walking, came back and discovered that pits without deodorant stink. I was able to wash them with my washcloth that came with today's commissary.

Also, I finally received a three-pack of new Hanes underwear, so when I get my three hours of freedom tonight from 7:30 PM to 10:30 PM I can shower and put on clean underwear. The little things!

I also bought a two-pack of oatmeal cookies to keep for the next time I need a pick-me-up. I figure since it will be a long time with no food, the oatmeal is good stomach filler. Forewarned is forearmed.

I brought two 50¢ washcloths, so one will be used to wash down my cell tonight. I think I will do it before my shower. I will use the shampoo again. That helps perfume the air. This place smells a lot like the old tiger house at the Bronx Zoo! Bathing is not a high priority for most people here.

Slow down. After my walk and pit wash, I read the Friday NY Newsday. Hey, I even finished a Friday crossword. Not as hard as a Saturday, but still one of the toughest of the week. So I guess the walk did my gray matter good. I am now waiting for dinner.

It is Friday, so both meals are fish, an old Catholic tradition that was changed in Vatican II, but anyhow, I will have my mackerel tonight instead of the questionable "fish patty." Lunch was tuna fish. I ate my M&M pack for the day already.

I traded my once-a-week baked chicken for an envelope so I could mail this letter out to you. I will get a backup envelope in case they take me out Monday or Tuesday so I can confirm when I depart the premises.

I should get a letter from Mom and Dad today. They mailed it Monday, so I better get it today.

I have no idea when I am leaving here, so if you can, please send five more books. They took a busload of inmates out of here this past Thursday, so I do not know if I am on hold now or what, but if I am here another week, the books will be welcomed. I have read five or six books just this last week!

That is all for now. I am going to mail this letter. BTW I did get the letter from Mom and Dad. The TV is showing "Cops" and then "Fear Factor" reruns, then they will change to MTV! Waaaah! I want my headphones and NPR!

On that note, let us break again for a bit while I do some reading.
Sunday, January 09, 2005
  Choices in life.
It is strange to me at least that I was actually excited about the fact that I could possibly have my own personal typewriter once I got upstate. Ha! Excited about going to prison upstate!

Your efforts have awakened the writer in me and since it is my handwriting that sucks, the ability to type solves a host of problems. I wanted to share my good news with you and to tell you not to sweat typing any more of my stuff.

The number one item between us as far as I am concerned is the ability to share real thoughts with each other. You mention the lack of getting a conversation with my Dad. I love my parents and they have provided a great deal of support to me, but there is still that large emotional wasteland that we seem unable to bridge.

No matter what I write to them, I always get a letter back with how busy they are and what they are doing to help this or that person. Heck, when I finally was able to talk to them my first Monday here, they cut the phone call short because they were taking some widow out to the movies that night!

I do understand that you all have lives on the outside and I hope I make clear my respect for that from time to time. There is however, no limit to the value of your letters to me. The brief look into your life, whether your letter is a simple, "Hey, here's what I am up to today" or some of the more thought-provoking deeper stuff, they give me a lift.

Yes, even your latest letter about "feeling used" still let me know that I am alive and have some value, even if at that point all I seemed to be was a pain in your ass!

So please feel free to keep me up to date on your "being used" feelings. I will hopefully handle that with grace and dignity, but a lot of what we have shared is all part of the whole and I would be hard pressed to say any of it was a waste of your time.

Hindsight is 20/20 and if we always look back it is easy to say, "Damn, if only I would have taken the left back there." Well, you did not.

True, you could simply tell me to take a hike, kill the blog, never write to me again, and that would be the end of my involvement in your life. But that would ignore my opinion about the growth and comfort we have both gotten from this journey.

Time out, my lunch has arrived!
Saturday, January 08, 2005
  A dear friend.
Since last Thursday, I have filled the hours with reading, sleeping, an hour walking outside four or five times, and two trips to the law library. So I have not done anything for anyone but me! And yes, I can do it but it is not only boring but sort of promotes an empty, hollow feeling.

I have even gotten used to your not answering a lot of my requests for info. I have said, "Hey, I will throw out some stuff and allow you to pick and choose what you feel like doing, time and 'mental energy' taken into consideration."

So do not sweat the blog. I did feel I took some specific heat from the Club Fed staff for my blog and as such, figured that was the "price of fame."

You are a very dear friend and I do not want to regress back to the old days where we would touch base a few times and then both drop off each other's radar for years. That sucks! We have taken too much of each other to stop now.

I am always here for you. I understand you have a life with responsibilities and pressures. I have always said I do not even mind that the volume of my words versus your typed letters is lopsided. I understand that. I only ask as always, even at your busiest, you at least drop me a line to say "Hi--I am busy--keep the faith!"

The lack of any direct, instant communication with the outside world is the one aspect of life behind bars that I still have not conquered. So I will not make any more collect calls, and just know if one of your letters comes back with a "Return to Sender" on it, I will be sending you my new address ASAP!
Friday, January 07, 2005
  Reply to the Editor about "feeling used."
Well, I got your "feeling used" letter yesterday. Great, I am locked in a cage with no comfort food and you are pissed at me. Hmm, the last time you dropped some negative waves my way it was during one of Club Fed's famous fog lock downs.

I finally got my commissary order today, so I now have pen and paper to write with, but I put down three envelopes on the sheet but only put 45¢ on the price, so no envelopes for me till Tuesday. I am going to try and borrow one envelope today so I can mail this out tonight, but I am not sure if I can get one.

I have had lots of time to think on your letter since sleep was difficult last night. As of now at 9:00 AM, MTV is on the TV playing loudly. They do not have BET, but MTV has enough rap to drive one around the bend! Last night over two hours of MTV and then two hours of wrestling! There is no way to hide from the noise. They crank up the volume and then talk even louder over it.

I was mysteriously switched from a more mature type cell block to my current location which has many twenty-something’s, and they are all here for getting in fights. This is rather disturbing.

One of the other cells, not next to mine, has had coffee, milk, and other debris tossed in his cell every day. Today he complained to the sergeant as he made his rounds and was told "Tough luck, everyone has to get along!"

The point is for the last eight days I have lived in a 6’ x 7’ cage without any comforts save a few books. They let five cells out for three hours at a time.

Now I am not asking for your pity. Prison has broken me of the "poor me" bit. But I am working on telling you how you are not being "used."

I know from your recent letters and our phone talks that life has been piling a lot of stuff on you. This is not to say your feelings about me are unjustified or your regrets of all the effort you have put into the blog is not true. They are.

But I would like to think we have moved much further. I think we have developed a very deep friendship. I have shared with you not to entertain you or gross you out but in hopes that we can continue to understand each other and how each of us has dealt with what life has dealt us and how we have dealt with it.

As I have said many times, one thing I have "learned" in prison is that for me at least, life is not a series of compartments but one long continuum where each piece of my life affects and causes further actions on the rest of my life. As we have both agreed, we have shared our thoughts with each other and that has no value assigned. It is indeed priceless, for me anyhow, because I realize that it requires a lot of trust on my side to share stuff with you.

What do I trust you to do (or not do)? Well, what I am saying is this: trust does not preclude you from saying hold it, I do not want to go there, etc. But I trust in sharing with you each "event" or "issue" is taken as part of the whole me.

I have also learned a lot about allowing people to do what they want when it comes to doing things for me. By this, I might not agree with the process that someone takes to do something for me, but just like lending money, once it leaves my control it is up to others to do it their way.

So you did exactly what your initial concerns with the blog were, dived in hook, line, and sinker. I thought it would be a much smaller project, but you managed to really make it fly. I have told several people about all your efforts and how honored I was to have you as a friend. This is also echoed by many of the posts on the blog, so you are due all praise and glory for your work.

You have said before that I am a captive audience. This is true. On more than one occasion you have dumped your problems on me and I thought I was a good listener and responded to your woes with positivity and understanding.

True, at this time I do have few financial resources to share with you, but I have spent a lot of time writing to you and while some of my writing is not of much use or quality, hopefully most of what I write has meant something to you.
Thursday, January 06, 2005
  Thoughts on sex, love, and relationships.
I was thinking about the recent CO Mom post you sent me. I am not sure if it is true, and if so, I am not sure if it is something I would actually want. As I have hinted at, I have had more than my share of willing sex partners. Willing because I paid them for it. Plenty of blow jobs in the front seat of my car parked by the waterfront in Brooklyn.

Oh, I would cruise for just the right looking woman. Hey, I even had a few more than one time. I am not at all proud of it now, and I have not shared most of this with anyone before.

So sex, pure and simple, is available and I sort of question the difference between freebies and paid. Emotional, I now say not too different. Lots on the physical, not much on the emotional.

So now having been solo for eight-and-a-half years, I am looking forward to an emotional commitment. Why risk health for fifteen minutes or two hours or whatever.

I am not sure if I have said the following before, but here goes. Love is the key. But what does that mean?

Well, according to my readings, it becomes a question of how far you are willing to go. Can you give 99% in order to get 1% of hot, steamy, emotional sex? My thoughts come from the mismatch on the one hand having my ex willing to do anything, but when she did it, either it was not as good as I thought it would be, and hence she sensed my disappointment and would get pissed or worse, she would just get pissed at doing something she didn't not want to do.

So anyhow, the point I am approaching is if you can get your partner to be as close to 100% turned on as possible, you will have a better time in the long run! But hey, we guys only need five minutes on a good night.

From a male perspective, I was thinking along the lines of coming up with some more sensual (for her), less sexually-specific activities. List activities on index cards and let her pick a card, leave it on your pillow, and that is what you would do. I am thinking that maybe some times you might not even get "release." Make it about her, not you. This seems a lot clearer in my mind.

For example, maybe one night, candles and hot oil massage for her. Another might be washing her hair. This can be a real gift. Perhaps you might even offer to shave her. At one point, that was one way I babied my ex, shaving her pubic hair for several days, maybe once every three days. Use warm water, plenty of sharp razors and have some nice candles and music.

Maybe you could begin to allow her full control one night. You must lie on the bed and not touch! The point is one way to approach this might be to have the cards run the full gamut and allow her to choose. Or maybe set aside some "non-sex-next-time" and make out the cards together.

You might even put some "challenges" or barter system: if you do this or that specific task for her, she will let you pick from three cards of her initial choosing, so she still has some control.

Part of the issue I see in my reading is the "disconnect" we males have that sex is always a separate issue. For a lot of women it seems that on some emotional level they want sex to be part of the continuum of the daily existence. Yes, that may actually mask it, as sex becomes a chore or something you get from her, but the idea is to really try to find out where she is "at" and how you can take steps to move on from there.

I have found that my best self-satisfying moments of late are when I have been thinking of a sensual or romantic scenario on and off throughout the day. Sometimes I wonder if I might be slowing down with age, but given the right stimulation, multiple times a day is still possible. Since I do not get to look much at nudes, and certainly see no moving pictures (i.e. porn), all my stimulation is text or story based.

What I can see clearly now about myself in my past life is that I was always into an Okay-now-let's-have-sex mode. Yeah, sometimes, I would do something romantic, but honestly I would be more likely to not even think of what else is going on in her life.

So the key as I see it is trying to establish the continuum so that sex starts hours or maybe even days before she has to think about the messy part. One step might be surfing the Internet bookstores for erotic or sensual books. Be willing to explore together. How could either of you know what might work if you do not try? I am sort of brainstorming here.

Sex is definitely about power and a willingness to trust, and also to let go. An example of that is how my ex encouraged and almost demanded that I be vocal when I orgasmed! She kept encouraging me with specific instructions, a.k.a. cheerleading. Then afterwards she would give me a recap and score my performance in terms of past orgasms.

It got so that I would really yell, and yes, they were more intense. By comparison it makes my current lifestyle a real downer, since with rare exception one must relieve oneself here in relative quiet.

So assure your partner you are willing to let go, to trust her, to let her see the real you. Do this in a way that initially puts you at risk of looking foolish without embarrassing you.

So just because you think you want "X" at this point, unless she wants "X" too, it will not be as good as it can get. Sex is usually more plentiful when the relationship has few pressures, hence the difference before and after marriage, but if you follow that logic, handling the "problems" together, keeping to a program of resolution, well then maybe that could lead to more sex.

It seems that the best sensual, sexual, erotic times in my life have been when the woman I was with felt they were in control and actively involved and knew they were getting theirs. The women I met post-split from my wife were almost always based on my stated desire to provide oral sex till they cried Uncle! I know I gave at least one woman (with five kids) her first oral sex "O." Up to that point she had used vibrators to reach her peak. So again, be willing to go to the max for her. And the part I sucked at was I thought the sex was enough. But no, they want it all!

And as of now I can honestly see no better way to live life in the future. Yes, my ex was willing to go "places" she never went before, but I continually dropped the ball by not feeding all of her. Women are able to have it all connected. That is the secret weapon. It is not just about a set formula like bringing home flowers, complementing her on her cooking, and then jump in the sack! One must be willing to truly explore what makes someone tick.

Try listening to the call-in sex show on the Oxygen Network. I know it is on at 11:00 PM on Sundays, but I think it is on other times also. You would be surprised at the number of women who call in with what I would call "basic questions." Give a look and see if you get the same response.

Sometimes she might just be indirectly letting you know how "little" she feels. Most people would not think I suffered from low self-esteem when meeting me initially. Some of my computer business clients did see ways to exploit it, but it was my ex who continually tried to make me feel good about ME!

The point on that was I used this as an excuse to not grow into the relationship but preferred instead to run around behind her back. That does not work for either partner in the long run.

I was not sure how this letter would go, but I just reviewed parts of it and I think it is not too bad. I hope you find it at least readable and maybe of some interest.
Wednesday, January 05, 2005
  Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.
I am all started up and ready to go. The following random quotes might make you think.

Written in 1946: "There are already certain American cities where the number of divorces is equal to the number of marriages."

"As political and economic freedom diminishes, sexual freedom tends commensurately to increase."

"A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bases and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced because they love their servitude. To make them love it is the task assigned in present-day totalitarian states to ministries of propaganda, newspaper editors, and schoolteachers."

"The greatest triumphs of propaganda have been accomplished not by doing something, but by refraining from doing. Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about the truth."

"By simply not mentioning certain subjects, by lowering what Mr. Churchill calls an "iron curtain" between the masses and such facts or arguments as political bosses regard as undesirable, totalitarian propagandist have influenced much more effectively than they could have done by the most eloquent denunciation, the most compelling of logical rebuttals."

Tuesday, January 04, 2005
  What a difference a day makes.
It is noon Tuesday. The planets are all aligned and nice things have happened this morning.

I finally got to see a doctor today, and he was "surprised" it has taken so long and he apologized for the delay. He agreed to issue my inhaler and to have it stay in a lockbox on the tier. They will not let me hold onto it. I asked and he agreed to prescribe a multi-vitamin since I cannot buy them at the commissary.

And then today I got my second commissary delivery and finally purchased some mackerel. It turns out it is pretty close to the stuff I was eating, only it comes in a pouch instead of a can.

So lunch comes, it is a mystery meat/soy patty, and I give up mine and get an extra serving of the tri-colored pasta. Cool. I mix in the mackerel and a little of the cheese spread and what a difference! It might be all in my head, but I feel full.

My next commissary delivery is Friday, and I will get the mackerel again. True, they do not serve pasta each day, but between rice, pasta, and a couple of wheat bread sandwiches I think I can do one meal a day that way. The rest will be peanut butter with some M&M's and trail mix thrown in. Yeah, and the oatmeal cookies are a two-pack of the three- to four-inch diameter cookies. So things are looking up on the food front.

See, it takes so little to brighten my day!
Monday, January 03, 2005
  Walking in the rain with no one to love.
Well, 2:30 PM on a rainy Monday. Yes, I live in a world of heavily frosted glass, but I just returned from our one-hour daily trip to a Rec yard.

There are five separate fenced in areas, and today we were in Yard Five. It is sort of triangular in shape with the buildings forming two sides of the triangle and the third side overlooking the courthouse parking lot.

For those of you not so gentle readers that thought I had it too well, I am now living a much-reduced lifestyle. Today's walk in the rain was not at all like a previously mentioned walk.

First of all, I am wearing cheap, government-issued Velcro strap sneakers, size 13. My normal size, or should I say my correct size, is 11 EEEEEE, and these size 13's are actually too small!

Unfortunately, they actually affect my back too. So here is a tip: if you have back problems, check your feet for their true size, and make sure your shoes fit properly. It has to do with that all-important arch. If it is in the wrong place, back pain can be the result.

But despite it all, I still walked for the full hour. Alas another thing I am missing is a radio, and therefore have no access to NPR. I have now been one week and three days without it.

I also have not had my favorite and brain-feeding mackerel and rice. I said earlier that perhaps you all might be able to tell the lack of "brain food," but I can certainly notice the difference.

So here I sit with no NPR, no mackerel, no vitamins, and no Diet Coke. And only one very thin blanket and a sleeping environment that varies from very cold to sweltering hot.

Oh yeah, one other thing I still have not been issued is an inhaler for my asthma.
Sunday, January 02, 2005
  New laundry procedure.
Prior to this week, once a week the staff would come by and exchange your two sheets, blanket, and towel for clean items. They decided to hand out an extra laundry bag and now we have to wash our own bedding along with our personal clothes. So this morning I am sitting in my cell with just the clothes on my back.

I have only one T-shirt and one towel (more are on the way), so along with the bedding that has been taken to be washed I am down to one set of green khakis and one pair of socks. The sheets are really thin and the six-and-a-half foot square blanket is also pretty light. Not quite the comfort of the four blankets I had at Club Fed.

The temperature here in the cellblock is either too hot or too cold. I am stuck with either curling under one sheet with the blanket folded in half for extra warmth but not "full coverage", or using it single-ply and freezing my you-know-what off! So yes, I do wake up being cold and have had to put on my heavyweight khakis. Now I am sitting up for the next three hours or so waiting for the return of the laundry.

Caffeinated Soap? Now here is an interesting take for dirty people with ADD. I read about a new soap which contains caffeine anhydrous, and using it supposedly allows the body to absorb caffeine equivalent to two cups of coffee. They are available at Target.com for $7 per bar or three for $14.99. Each bar is good for twelve washes.
Saturday, January 01, 2005
  Moving Experience.
Well, it was a good day, and then just after I posted my last letter to you in the mailbox, the CO called three names, one of which was mine, and said "Roll Up."

I asked what was up and he said he did not know anything more than I was leaving his tier and that it was not an upstate run.

So I stuff all my meager possessions into two mesh laundry bags and go out to the lobby. It turned out I was being moved up one floor to a different cell.

Why, you might ask? No reason that I know of. But this is not a good thing, since if you get moved around, it looks like a setup to the ones you leave, and the place you arrive views you as trouble.

Hmmm, nine days for medical, and now a late night move. Did I get dropped into a cellblock with an impending gang war? That would suck.

Well, I am glad my bars are closed twenty-one hours a day. And I could lock it up for most of the remaining three hours too. I am keeping my radar up and hoping for the best. So I walk all the way down to the 18th of the twenty cells, the gate slides open, and in I go.

Now my trusty, jail issued, Velcro closure, black sneakers start sticking to the floor and the aroma is one of Eau du Piss 2004. The CO would not allow me any cleaning supplies and my asthma was starting to kick in. Calm down, do not stress. So what to do?

As luck would have it, I had just received a nice new 100% cotton washcloth from home. I had also just purchased a cheap one from the Commissary for $0.50. So I sacrificed the $0.50 washcloth, poured some shampoo on the floor, and proceeded to wash the floor using the washcloth. I also cleaned the sink/toilet combo unit.

Now, mind you, it took a while to rinse off all the shampoo, but the cell certainly smelled a little cleaner and I got a sort of good night's sleep. When in prison, one must be able to improvise!

That is why having your own "stuff" is important. Had I not had my shampoo and washcloth, it would not have been until this afternoon when my cell was finally opened for my three hour Rec time that I would have been able to clean my cell.

It turned out that when they called Rec, I was the only one who went out. So I paced the yard. Approximately 45 seconds per lap. Around in circles.

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