Pen Pals Wanted.
May 30, 2005[Editor] I told Pete that I will continue to maintain the blog, but I no longer have time to act as his intermediary for comments and other people's blogs.
Pete has agreed that I can give out his mailing address to anyone interested in corresponding with him directly.
If you want his mailing address, click here to send me an email.
If you prefer to let Pete start the ball rolling, send me an email with your name and mailing address and I will forward it to Pete.
Pete has no access to email, so we are talking about corresponding via old fashioned snail mail using paper and pen, and envelopes and stamps.
You can write whatever you want: generic letters, comments about his blog, or if you have a blog and don't have time to write a letter, just print out and mail a copy of your blog. His is a lonely existence, and he would be happy to receive any and all mail.
Just keep in mind that he is a convicted felon and that he is currently incarcerated in a medium-security NY State prison. As a result, all of his mail is read by NY State Corrections Officers and inspected for contraband.
It may seem scary at first, but it's really not as bad as it sounds.
However, there are some taboo subjects such as anything gang-related, anything related to criminal activity, and anything about operating a business from prison, so steer clear of those topics.
Also, all correspondence must have a return address on the envelope in order to be accepted by the prison mail room.
There are confusing rules as to what he can and cannot receive.
Generally, any letters, either handwritten or typed, are acceptable, except that a prisoner may not receive direct correspondence from another prisoner.
Not that he is asking, but cash, checks, or postage stamps are not allowed, but money orders and books of all types are acceptable.
CDs are not allowed, but factory-sealed cassette tapes are OK.
Newspapers and magazines are not allowed. This restriction includes clippings from newspapers and magazines such as articles, crossword puzzles, or pictures. Newspapers and magazines can only be sent directly from the publisher. However, if you print an article from a newspaper or magazine publisher's web site, that is acceptable. Go figure.
Photographs are OK; they do not have to be professionally printed. You can send digital photos which have been printed on a home inkjet or laser printer.
I will let him answer any other specific questions regarding what he can and cannot receive.
Here is my commissary account for the past two months or so.
It is Wednesday here
and the time is now 6:20 PM. I went to bed at 10:30 PM and still took my morning nap after breakfast. I have yet to read any NY Times, and having received Monday's today, I now have eight papers to read. Will hopefully finish up the letter and have time to knock out last Monday's paper before bedtime.
I cooked my bean & pasta meal tonight. I started a little after 3:00 PM and we were eating around 4:50 PM. Try cooking pasta one half a pound at a time in a pot that will not heat the water over 200 degrees. Patience is certainly becoming one of my strong points. Admittedly it does not always come through in my letters to you.
Sometimes what I write and see as being a positive statement, you take as a negative. That is not really a problem, except when either of us assumes the opposite and then fires back a comment that is based on a false premise. This is also true of not realizing a line was meant in jest and instead of passing a joke back, one of us takes the statement as the truth and again "hurt" is directed where it should not really be.
For example, the comment about me living with you. It would certainly have been a smarter approach for me to ask for clarification first, before shooting off the very sarcastic comment about you and the postage. I am really working on being more concerned about what I say, and speaking in positives instead of negatives. Don Rickles I am not.
That of course is really a challenge in here, and I am guilty of using my sarcasm in my letters to you. Perhaps I should save it for those times when I am describing a third party, and not directing it at you. I am really asking for "help" and "clarification" from others more than I have in the past. It is too easy for me to slip into my old smart ass self.
A good example is the other day when we were playing cards. In addition to Tom and Bill, we included a new person. Walter happens to be in here on a sex charge, was actually a therapist, has a Masters in Social Work and is certainly smarter than the average inmate.
I know all this because after the card game that night I was giving him some prison background and he ended up dumping a whole bunch of stuff on me. Another sign of progress on my people skills, usually I would have never given him the ability to shut me up, let alone engender a sense that I might actually be a sympathetic ear.
The point is while the four of us were playing cards, I jokingly accused Tom of cheating. When Bill and Tom play cards and I would check in with how they were doing they would each accuse the other one of cheating. This time Tom ended up taking me seriously and really started giving me the cold shoulder while we were still playing cards.
When we finally ended the game I pulled Tom aside and asked him what was the problem. He was sore because I accused him of cheating. I said you know I was only kidding (I was getting such lousy hands) and he said there was a new guy there (Walter) and that is why he got pissed at me.
I said Walter knew that I was only kidding and Tom would not budge. I said look this is exactly why I said previously I wish we all could not be so negative. I was guilty of being too fast with the negative remarks and I was really sorry. He accepted my apology and we moved on.
Later on I realized that what might have really been bothering Tom that night was that Walter was sitting at the table with the catalog and a big list of things he was going to buy. Tom seeing this and realizing that Walter obviously had money, probably was the real reason Tom was in a funk.
I need to be slower on the put-downs, be more aware of what others are feeling around me. I need to be willing to seek clarification of what I perceive the other person is feeling to be sure what I do or say will not be taken the wrong way. I also have to be much quicker than I have been in the past to be willing to accept the possibility that my words or actions might actually have hurt someone.
Just because I thought what I said was a joke or not a big deal, does not mean the other person took it that lightly. Yes some of this may be obvious to you, but I have been working on some of my anti-social behaviors and some of this was not always obvious to me.
What does this have to do with tonight's promised topic of Money? I think a lot. When it comes to money, and more than one person is involved, there will always be the possibility of misunderstanding and bad feelings.
I am not jealous of others money and success. If I start feeling jealous of anyone, it would become a never ending pity party for me. Easy to say, but might not be the truth you say. I will agree.
The point is I have so many areas to be jealous of that while it may be unrealistic to say I never have any jealous thoughts, they do not take up permanent residence in my mind. The guys around here with less time with me, the ones that spend $100's of dollars on phone calls, get the full thirty five pounds of food each month, etc.
What I do seek is your understanding of what my thought process is and how that matches or differs from your thinking. One aspect of a strong friendship is the ability to agree to disagree, as oppose to avoiding an issue and have it be like a two ton elephant sitting in the room that everyone sees but no one talks about.
Since you have been deluged with my letters of late some of what I considered important points may have been lost. The actual cash spent on an item is never the best way to judge a purchase.
I have enclosed an accounting of my total worth for the last three months. Pretty good for me. I think that is the longest I have actually kept a running balance of what funds I have, both before and after my arrest.
It is my opinion that in trying to explain my thinking on a money issue to you, I have inadvertently ended up sounding jealous and sarcastic. For example, you clearly know from my whining and other assorted remarks that I wish I had more cash in my commissary account.
The question then becomes, Okay how much more do I want and/or need? Aha. There is the problem, who determines what I need, and how much does what I want enter into the discussion. Please understand I am throwing out the following points with the hope you will not take them as me being jealous but as in inside peek to my thought process.
This discussion is not one you would have with the guys down at the hockey rink or at the scout meetings, but I think we are beyond that level, and it is actually a factor in our friendship, not in terms of me chasing after your money, but me being clear as to what the cost of certain things are to me and how I pay for those things.
The first question is, "Why do I need any money at all?" The prison does provide food, clothing and shelter.
I have proven that given enough money to buy my own food, I can lower my cholesterol. The lower one's cholesterol is, the longer that person might be able to avoid heart disease and other circulatory problems. How much is that worth personally to me?
If I had no one sending me money, I would not be able to buy the current amount of healthy foods I am eating. I am not even talking about my soda, candy bars and postage. With the eight dollars I get a month in inmate pay, I could not buy enough healthy food to make a difference.
Do I have a right to ask others; parents, relatives and friends, to help me buy the healthy food? I know I put myself in prison, but provided we are willing to not simply accept a black and white solution here, the point I am making is where does it end? I mean that from my side. Yes you would not normally be a party to this discussion, what someone else does with his money, but I am willing to be open to your opinions.
Let us take the specifics of my situation. I get $100 a month from Mom and Dad. I am not even including all the other money they have spent on the radio, typewriter, supplies, some clothing and the food they did send. They were sending me $125 while I was in Fedville and claimed the reduction was due to the cost of sending me the NY Times.
I guess if I told them to cancel the Times, I would then get an additional $25, even thought the paper runs about $50.00 per month. This means that I am giving up $25.00 a month to read the New York Times. Obviously I am the only one that can decide if the Times is worth the expense. We are talking about a twenty-five percent increase in my cash each month if I stop getting the Times!
It is the Sunday before commissary and I still have twenty-four of the forty-eight Diet Cokes I brought twelve days ago. I think that is the most soda I have ever been able to "save." I would usually buy my commissary based on what I would (or could) use in one week, and proceed to "make it so."
This time I brought enough soda to have three or four cams a day, but have managed to not drink that many. I had brought a box of tea bags for eight-eight cents and have been drinking two or three mugs of tea (without sugar) to still get the caffeine that I think helps me perform at a higher level.
I do value money, and can change my expenses even at my low level. I have always been very short sighted when it comes to money and never was able to see the benefits of a well thought out financial plan.
This is in direct contrast to the "friends" I had while attending St. Anthony's. They were all quite well off. The lesson here is that it is not how each of us grew up that matters, but how each of us took our experiences and what paths we chose for our future.
I am no longer seeking to use my "deprived" childhood as an excuse, but as a forensic tool to make drastic changes in my thinking. I may point out a perceived difference between you and me without first making sure I am not sounding sarcastic or jealous.
I have never really been a cheap person, but lately am more conscience of the fact that I must be willing to give without expecting anything in return. I do not say I get it right, but I am working on it.
I have made several bean and pasta meals, and have said that I do not expect them to pay me back. While Tom does not have anything to give, Bill has gotten a few food packages in. He just finished a box of Girl Scout Cookies, and I did not get offered a single one.
In the past, my "giving" was usually attached to a sense of entitlement of a payoff in some other area. Yes I still notice the lack of reciprocity but it is mot with the same emotional feeling of betrayal as before. I simply see it as a decision that I can make at any point to cease sharing my food with them.
It is a lifestyle thing, it is a choice that I and I alone am making. I am responsible for the outcome. If I do not like the way Bill is treating my generosity, I can mot change his actions, I can only change mine. That statement is also empowering, I do mot have to take the treatment I am getting if I do not want to!
There is a possible middle ground, but that really depends on the level of the relationship. The middle ground being an open discussion with Bill about him sharing more. By that statement, I am changing the definition of sharing to mean more of a pay me what I spend arrangement.
The "risk" is that he will say no problem; I will not eat your food anymore. Why is that a risk? Well if I am truly giving in the spirit of free giving, I contradict that by my action. I also am ceding some of my control. Instead of giving the food, I am admitting that I am in need of a similar sense of giving on his part.
I am forced to practice what I preach. I have stated openly that it only cost about a dollar to prepare the meal for all three of us, and with the exception of the pasta, I would not use less tomato sauce or beans if I was only going to cook for myself, and would have more food than I really needed.
I am not really giving up all that much. The whole pound of pasta cost around thirty-eight cents. I need to see where I do have control over my life. In the past I would always excuse myself from responsibility, because it was always someone else's fault.
I am not one hundred percent "cured." I will still voice an opinion once in a while about life being unfair, and something not being my fault due to something that happened or did not happen in my life. I have said I do not want to be labeled a "victim" and only want to understand how past actions in my life are affecting my life now. I think to some extent I say that, but my letters will bear witness to me still claiming life is not fair from time to time.
When that happens, I have no problem with you pointing it out to me; again some of this may seem either too "mushy" or trivial, but I am willing to put myself in the position that you can be honest with me and point out areas where I am not being consistent or something I have said makes you angry.
While I have made several adjustments to my letter writing to you over the years, there is still room for improvement. I am still too lazy to look up some words that I am typing. I do bring both the dictionary and thesaurus with me each time I bring out the typewriter and do look for words that fail the spell-checker.
You have asked that I only type on one side of the page, I do so. I have switched to using ribbon for all my letters, but this is really for my benefit, since I hopefully will now be able to scan all the letters I send to Mom and Dad. I am not really sure on the amount of ribbons I will be using, or how much will be too much in terms of ribbon expense.
I have already showed Mom and Dad how much I spent on basics, which I asked them to comment on in terms of me cutting back, or perhaps giving me a few dollars more. I never got an answer from them on the subject.
I have managed to save around $12.00 by cutting in half my soda drinking on my own, and I could probably even eliminate all the soda. My question is what level of "treats" is acceptable to them and where do they think I could change. I do think it is important to be sure those on the outside do realize what is actually available to me and how I use my resources.
Well it is now 6:20 PM on Sunday and I finally printed out the previous two pages. I actually printed two or three proofs of each page and did some pretty heavy editing. Deleting some sentences and changing words and phrases. I do not know if you will see all that much of a difference and to be honest there is still more that could be done but it has to get out at some point.
I am not sure how much more I am going to write tonight, I am at a pretty low point emotionally and do not have a lot of energy to deal with much more of the issues in your letter. But they need to be addressed. They are not going to go away.
I am hoping that some of the preceding text explains my position properly and makes amends for what has been offensive to you in the past. I do promise to be more respectful in my writing, and do not really see a way you can "hide" your financial status from me. I do not say that in a mean spirited way at all.
When we fail to ask each other the right questions, our relationship tends to suffer a "rough" spot that eventually comes out somewhere, and is actually more of a problem than had it been dealt with correctly the first time.
The best example of that is the ease of scanning my letters, (why you wanted single sided) and the fact that I was assuming that the carbon paper was working a whole lot better than it was. That is to say I assumed you could get a satisfactory scan from much more than one use of the carbon.
Those two examples are certainly nowhere near the personal and emotional weight of discussing your financial situation, or my actual behavior that put me in jail, but do simply point out that given the lack of any concept I have about the outside world at this point, I can not really "assume" much. This means that I need things explained to me, so I can understand the "weight" a particular issue carries and how it may or may not affect our relationship.
I am not a stupid person, but I have made a lot of assumptions in my life that have later turned out to be false. These false assumptions have led to, at best, awkward situations and at worst, a lot of the reason for my incarceration. At this point it seems what is really needed is for me to back up and look at this from a chronological point of view. It will be an interesting and painful journey for me, but one that needs to be done.
To even begin to write this is opening all sorts of emotional feelings. Not you fault at all; I just have so little resources to deal with these issues solo. I will do it, and begin in the next week or so.
I am not doing it to convince you of anything, I will be doing it so that the picture of my life as I see it is available to you. Passing tidbits seem to confuse more than enlighten, and that makes no sense. The painful part in writing this all out will be the obvious opportunities I had and the massive FUCK-UP I made out of my life.
I can see clearly now life was not all as bad as I thought, and I was really a pretty lucky guy overall. So like the song says, regrets I had a few, but then again too few to mention... My case there are way more than a few and I will mention them.
I do honestly feel there are a whole bunch of lessons in my life that perhaps others can learn from, at the same time I remember how little I wanted to listen to anyone. That has changed, I do honestly care and listen (or read) intently your criticisms of either what I write to you, or even the little things that I can do to make this friendship work.
I do think you can make things go a little smoother with your wife, and I know when I say that you can either dismiss it as I have no idea what you put up with, or how could I possible know anything about dealing with another human given my past behavior.
That is probably the biggest stumbling block I have with anyone. I can either be pitied and treated like the caged animal the prison system treats me as, or I can be accepted as a horribly flawed individual that is working on repairing some of those flaws. The genie is out of the bottle. I would hope this relationship does not turn into the one I feel I have with my parents at this point which is one of very little emotional involvement at all.
Another page and I was not going to add much.
My parents have made the long trek to visit me, and no matter what was happening before their arrival, my dad consistently falls asleep at some point during the visit. I ask how often I should call, since it is now collect only and they never answer the question.
I send three or four letters; they only answer the last one, pretending I have not written the other three. When I do not write, or at Club Fed, did not call for a few weeks I would get a letter asking why they have not heard from me.
This has never been a problem with you, lack of an emotional connection. Although I had high expectations of you writing more often, we have eventually come to an understanding of the amount of time you have to write me.
Even as I write this I wonder if this letter is being read on the front stairs or are you by a computer to be able to make notes. I can clearly picture you working on the blog, cursing the lousy carbon paper or some of my lousy spelling, poor grammar, and lack of any coherent sentence structure and yet you still turned out a quality blog.
Yes I did notice the poor English in some other blogs you sent and how you were proud that Prison Pete met a higher standard. And I do understand your desire to do that. I am only sorry that I did not "help" you sooner with making your job easier.
Okay enough "open heart" surgery for now. I am going to be more controlled in my writing. Well I am going to proof and print these last three pages and call it a night. It is 7:30 PM now.
I was taking a shower and it dawned on me. If you put my name and address on the blog, does that mean eventually the search engines would pick it up so that if someone searched for me, it would point directly to the blog?
The second problem is that it takes away any shred of remaining anonymous. While I consider most of the blog to be truthful, if Ms. Lemon, hack counselor extraordinaire, decides to do a web search? One could take the attitude to let the chips fall where they may. I am sort of on the 'so what' mode, the other half of me says hey, do not shit where you eat.
True you are giving out my name, but at least that takes some effort on the reader's part (and more work for you I know). If I am right about the search engine thing, then any idiot can find me in one step. Any prison staff and the word idiot contain some of the same letters.
It is 3:30 PM and I have spent most of today vegetating. I have not yet started beck to work on the letter. I am too stubborn to sleep in my clothes, so even with the two blankets I am still waking up several times a night due to the cold. I have always slept in my "tighty-whities" and a tee shirt.
Tonight I am going to use the cheep fitted sheet Mom and Dad brought as the bottom sheet, then use the two "state sheets" and the other top sheet that came with the fitted bottom sheet end see if that helps.
I am regressing to old habits, and using the "Perfection or Nothing" attitude along with a little "Tough Issue So Avoid" to hold up progress on the answer to the issues you raised in your lest letter. At least I am not doing the just inundate you with words typed on page after page. That does not work as it causes sensory overload. As the saying goes' for once I would rather dazzle you with my brilliance than continue to baffle you with bullshit.
I am lying in bed waiting for 4:00 chow. I will start typing this letter out first (I am writing in pencil now) and then attack some more of the "real" letter. [No I will not. We are going to play Spades at 7:00 PM]
I am finishing up one of the Robert Ludlum books then I am going to reed the civil war book you brought. I have not forgotten about it and have read the intro. I do not want it relegated to the round to it pile.
I ended up talking to Daniels this afternoon. He is the guy I came in with but have been avoiding. He met with the counselor today. She works alphabetically through the roster; I guess I will be up in the next few days.
Daniels did come up with a good one today. Lemon apparently told him that half the inmates in here did not need to be in PC, and they could exist fine in General Population. She went a bit further and told Daniels that he would not have any trouble in another prison, which is actually a former crazy hospital that was converted to a medium prison. It is apparently a dumping ground for both misfit staff and inmates. It is literally directly across the street from us, and we can see the buildings from our yard.
I told Daniels that she was lying to him plain and simple and that he would not last two minutes in GP before all his property would be gone and then the first bad day an inmate was having he would become the punching bag.
The inmates are not the only criminals in here.
One request if you get a chance and this is not for me, but a random act of kindness if you care to do it. Could you find the prison pen pal web site and send me a couple of the application forms. The one I am thinking of has like two or three different payment levels, and is geared specifically for prisoners. I think you had found it while ago and had mentioned it to me.
PS. Package delivery time and my name was called. And ten more books have been sent. Thank you. I am going to have to implement a reading marathon to make a dent in all the books you have sent that are waiting to be read. This was an eclectic mix package type.
Three Novels by Helen Maclnnes
Two Classics I should have read in school had I been paying attention. True Grit and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Two Soc/Pysch books: Ply Mother, Myself and The Peter Pan Syndrome. That one would certainly apply to a lot of people in here. Staff and Inmates.
A Patch of Blue by Elizabeth Kata
The Spy Who Came In From the Cold by Le Carre
The Day of the Jackal by Forsyth I am not sure if I have read that one, but saw the original movie right before I left Beckley.
Well 6:30 PM Time to proof and print. More to come!!!!
This is just a short note
to say hi and let you know that I am still working on my response to your latest letter. I am drastically switching gears, and so it is taking a little longer to get the letter written.
I am taking the time on my end to be sure you get a more coherent and structured response. I have been working on three pages of the letter for the last three hours. I have already printed two or three drafts of a page and am actually doing a real editing job, including deletions, moving text and adding where needed.
This is a different approach for me and that I was not going to send you the two pages I have finished. You will get it once I have finished the entire letter.
I am enclosing my copy of the shipping charges for the Hot Pot. I do not know if I was included in the "someone is lying" bit or not. I assume the problem might be that I sent the hot pot to an address that was on the packing slip, but was not where the pot had to be returned to.
In the future, if it ever happens again, it would probably be a good idea for you to send me in advance the return address for any items. I am assuming that depending on what the item is, it gets returned to a different location and the fact that I could not access the web, forced me to send it to the wrong place. That location then sent it on to the proper location. I probably should have just sent it to you and you could have found a use for it.
Hope all is well.
It is now 2:30 PM
and here we go.
I was up till about 3:00 AM sitting with my crossword puzzle book and enjoying the classical music on WNED. I was rewarded for my diligence, at 2:30 AM they played the Brandenburg Concerto Number 3. It is certainly among my top ten.
I am about four puzzles away from completing the first hundred. It is quite a turnaround for me. In the past when I encountered emotional rough spots, I would most likely find myself taking in some sort of sexual activity, depending on my cash available, or in the later years, dive into the chat rooms.
Here while the options certainly limit what I can do, I find a healthy way to deal with the stress by doing some sort of activity that enhances my own sense of self worth, while not at the same time doing more harm than good. BP (before prison) having sex with a female was certainly a way I dealt with a whole bunch of issues and it usually provided a momentary boost, but the fall usually left me lower down on the emotional feeling level.
It is too easy for an outsider to say well duh, I can tell you that. The point was there was never another person that I could seek strength from. While we certainly have had some (and continue to have) uncomfortable moments, we continue to both grow from the letter writing. Granted, with growth comes some pain, and you have the right to not want the pain. I understand that. I only hope you understand that the dynamics of this relationship have truly been hard fought. I do not want this to become a stagnant relationship. I believe we both have something to give the other and occasionally we will disappoint each other.
It is my humble opinion that if you should decide to cut off all future communication with me, we well both be the poorer for it. You have provided plenty of opportunities for me to grow and become a better human being. I am thinking that at one point there was some discussion about whether you were actually enabling me, to allow me to become more needy and less on the road to rehabilitation.
It might not have been in those exact words, but I can assure you that while there may have been some specific instances where I was asking for a "pity party," my only goal is to be sure you understand what is going on en my surroundings and how that impacts on my feelings. Your reaction to my various difficulties has ranged from, "Gee that is too bad" to "Well you put yourself in there."
Those are both valid points, and it is good to have my behind kicked once in a while, along with some sympathy at times.
Please be assured I am not in any sort of denial in terms of the actions and activities that landed me in prison. When I look at the last year prior to my arrest, one might make a pretty good case for the fact that I was actively seeking capture.
A little further up the effort versus payoff, is my learning to play the sax. I was able to have melodies coming out of the instrument within a few weeks, but saw that daily practice increased my ability. I think I mentioned that at one point we had an outside musician come in and one of the staff members encouraged me to play for him, but that was just at the point where I had not be practicing for a week or so. Needless to say I was squeaking and sounding like a raped duck.
My comments to others, who were impressed by my progress, was that yes I read music, and had played the trumpet at one point but felt that this was much easier to play. It still required regular practice? This did however give rise to the idea that maybe I would like to try again with the trumpet. It does have a sexier sound. Knowing that with consistent practice I might actually get somewhere.
That would be in the middle area of the effort versus payoff. The one that certainly took the longest to give a go, but is showing the most impressive results, is the typing. The thing is as soon as I allow myself to look at the keyboard, the throughput drops. I do not know what that has to do with anything.
As long as I am looking up at the clock, I can type non-stop and with minimal errors. I can even catch myself when I hit the wrong key before the spell checker beeps. The thing that is getting me now is that the beep at the end of the line is the same as a misspelling and I am actually typing full lines of text without any errors.
The other crazy thing is the words that I commonly use that are not in the spell checker. Like beep and putting.
It has not been overnight this amazing discovery of putting in some effort to gain long term benefits, but the "graduation" moment is certainly at the present time.
Our letter writing is another of those areas that I have made some changes. I am certainly less in the "I write one, you write one" mode. I am one to feel that we can continue to grow from the experience of being open with each other.
Time, I think we have both discussed the restraints we find on our time and the effort to keep the communication lines open between us. I do know you read my letters and yes the picture of you sitting on your steps and opening my latest missive is certainly one that brings me nice warm feelings.
I am going to cut back on the number of pages in each letter for a little bit and seek a more balance in my writing. I think if I begin to put more planning into my writing, you will still get great reading material, but instead of a half a pound chuck hamburger, we will work toward a one-third pound serving of sirloin.
Part of this upgrade, will be an effort to make the letters more cohesive. In the short-term, I will take the extra time and be sure that any questions I raise will be included on a recap sheet.
The to-do list is a great example. It turned out to be a great idea; your initial complaints turned into faint praise. At that point I did my typical thing and dropped the ball. Do you understand how pervasive this lack of "control" in my life has led to so many problems that it is really no surprise I ended up in prison?
Okay that is all for today.
There are no to-do's in this letter so there will be no to-do list. I will continue to work through your letter, and hopefully within the next few days I will be able to articulate my feelings in a way that does more clarifying than confusing.
Until you get the final letter in this series, I ask you to hold any comments. I am going to hopefully be able to tie all my thoughts up in one neat package. That is my intention; let us see how close I come to that objective.
Have I got a deal for you!
I was not even going to send you a letter tonight, but I have a few minutes to perhaps send you out a short note. It is now 8:35. I am going to type a page or two and then call it a night. I have just finished thirteen pages for my parents.
It is amazing to me, and I hope you will give me the benefit of the doubt on some of this, but some of the issues raised in your letter where ones I wanted to deal with. For example now that I have finally mastered the art of touch typing, I want to move on to the quality of my writing. We both know I can generate quantity!
I am going to deal with each and every issue you raise in your letter, but instead of my usual approach, get as many words out as fast as possible, you are going to have be a little patient and instead of you getting the unedited first "mind dump" you will be getting the second generation.
I slept most of today and will be working on a handwritten draft of a letter tonight. Instead of sending that to you, I will type it out tomorrow and proof and print tomorrow, or I may even need to take part of Wednesday.
Free time - Not to blow my own horn, I have not watched one show since I have gotten here. No news, no sports, nothing. Ironically, this really paid off this past weekend when the bunch that had been watching Survivor, was deprived of seeing the final show Sunday evening since a competing group insisted on watching their usual Sunday night show Charmed.
Yes I said to myself; look at the aggravation I avoided!
I have not done my walking for the last three days. I am sort of waiting for the mega blister to heal. Unfortunately, the other night I did manage to rip off most of the dead skin. Just could not leave it alone. Now I am waiting for that to heal up.
That does bring up one thing I would really appreciate and that is if you could send my all the contact info for Hitchcock shoes, and specifically if you could print out the boots that come in size 11 6E. The one I am looking for is a tan boot, over the ankle, ala high top sneakers but not all the way up the calf. They should come in a non-steel toe style. I think they were around $150.00. If it is not easy to look for, just send me the name, address and phone number and I will take it from there.
I forgot to say what the deal is. With the exception of the previous paragraph, if you can get that sooner rather than later I would appreciate it, let me get all my thoughts out before you respond. I am not sure exactly how this will unfold, but I am going to forsake all other writing, to deal specifically with the letter so that once and for all we can get some common ground.
Thanks for continuing to scan my letters. As you can see, I have already adopted the easy way for you. Single sided, all with the ribbon.
As far as the scanning goes, if I end up with the original scan and the results of the OCR that would be great. As long as we, (okay it is on you for now) do not lose the ability to open both the original and the OCR at some point in the future, there is no reason to proof/correct the OCR except if you like to sharpen your editing skills!
Just some easy stuff now on time. I think it is a personality type. If you do not worry about time, like I pretty much did in the past, you just did one thing after the other and what you did not do today, hey tomorrow was soon enough.
Now I am being more purpose and goal oriented and all of a sudden I do not have enough time to get done what I want to accomplish each day. And I am not even counting those things that I am dependent on others for. Like the shoes for instance. I have things I want to do and I can not fit it all in! For example I can not even picture giving up an hour a week, or more, to watch any television show.
My mom actually wrote two pages to me, and she said that it seemed that I was being stressed by trying to read the New York Times, did I want to cut it back and only get certain days. They know I am reading the papers; they are getting plenty of articles to share that clearly show I am actually reading the paper. I am following through on something for once in my life, valuing the fact that my parents are paying for the paper, and Mom's response is to should we cut it back?
I do not think this is related directly to them saving money. It is actually something mentioned in the book "Your Own Worst Enemy," about people cutting us smart guys some slack. I do not need that; I need to be able to see what happens when I stick with something for more than the usual "Fifteen Minutes."
It is also dangerous if I actually do make changes, destroying some previous well earned points, that others around you might want to sabotage the efforts. The mind is such a complicated instrument, and when one starts to deal with one's own "standards" and makes changes, well others can get really scared. The others may or may not be doing the things knowingly, but that does not make them any less deadly to your progress.
While my parents have not gotten ten letters since they last wrote (like you did), they have gotten three or four. The funny thing was they chose to comment only on the articles in the latest letter and not mention any of the backlog or that a backlog might even exist. I know in their mind they are up to date and do not owe me anything till I write again.
Damn 9:20 and I have not printed the first two pages yet. Let me deal with just one other issue now and get this in the mail tonight.
I think I mentioned in one of my recent letters that it was my feeling that you took a real sense of ownership and pride in the blog. Sure enough today you mention that in your letter. I have certainly enjoyed reading all the comments, and it was certainly a boost to my ego to know that people were reading my words, but it has certainly been your baby.
I am puzzled by some of the latest comments and sometimes feel like the blog has become an experience where I am the child in the room, all the adults are talking about me, and I am unable to say anything that changes the direction of the conversation or correct an opinion that without being able to rebut or clarify my thinking takes on a life of its own.
It has been great, you have done a lot of work on it, and neither of us knew where it would go when I first suggested it and you eventually took off with it. There is definitely a book in it, even if no one reads it. The book would not only contain the actual blog, but there is an entire Monday morning quarterback perspective that could either be done by me alone, or as a conversation between you and me.
The point is that all the issues we have talked about between us, some of which have "leaked" on to the blog are all part of the relationship we have built. The fact that you still raise questions about being my friend is a good thing. Not that I always want to feel like I am under the bare light bulb, being forced to answer question upon question.
The "relationship" with Tom and Bill is very superficial. Last night at the card game the issue we most talked about was who could fart better. I did not actually participate in the "live" discussion.
Tonight Tom was disappointed that he did not get a letter, and Bill did and was going to spend the night writing back. Tom was pissed, said he was not going to bother to write to anyone until they finally wrote back.
I was sorry Tom was feeling so down, but I did not feel that I had to deal with his funk at that moment or even tonight. That is were I am at with them, I have established a certain boundary, and was planning on not playing cards tonight anyhow to get my letter writing done.
In the future I am going to suggest that Tom work on the story he was supposed to be writing, and I will type him a double spaced working draft with carbon paper if he wants. That will not cost me too much and give me yet another opportunity to drill in the typing skills.
Our relationship is a whole lot deeper than that, I understand some of your thoughts with the way I deal with some of the information you give me, just like I think you have misunderstood some of the things I have shared. The point is I feel we are able to deal with the feelings of each other and move forward.
This is actually pretty cool even though I have spent most of today typing I am already on page four. I am going to have to stop in a few minutes for the count, and when I return will print out this letter or it will be 11:00 and I will still be typing.
I used to feel very much the poor boy and felt I was entitled to everyone's money or as Danny Divito would say O.P.M. (Other people's money). I have told you this before; I thought I had clearly written out the difference.
Well the count is done and I better get this printed. First I have to have to officer approve the large envelope for Mom and Dad and then I will come back to print this.
Well it is 10:30 PM and I am about to print this last page.
It looks like Infinity Broadcasting sold their station up here. I turned it on for Love Line and got Rock music. No explanation, but the tag line for the station is different. Oh well there goes a ten of hours a week that I can now do something else.
The good news was it was on Sunday through Thursday and that conflicted with Pipe Dreams on Sunday night. Now I do not have to flip back and forth to see if I was missing a good call or just the dumb raving of Adam.
Paged to play cards.
6:45 PM and I am being paged to play cards! They wanted to start at 7;00, but I told them I had work to do.
I spent most of today reading the New York Times. Read up to and including Saturday, April 30. I typed a three page letter to my parents and included the Hamilton Order.
You will note there are two page threes of my Saturday letter. The blue copy is what I get when I do the draft. The ribbon copy is what the memory did to it when I went to edit it. I wimped out and did not send you a corrected version. I do not know if it will be needed but please keep the two pages handy. If I need to strengthen my warranty claim for the typewriter, I can send them the two pages to show them what happens. I would ask that if it comes to it, you copy the blue page, if it is copiable, so they do not ask why it is blue? Since I am not calling Mom and Dad, I am waiting to see if they convinced the company to send the replacement or not.
Enclosed is my attempt to get some high fiber back in my diet. The information on the fiber came from the stuff you sent me. Not holding my breath. I forgot to ask him about upgrading the one vitamin they sell. We are not allowed to get any others sent in. The one they sell is really basic and has less than half the minerals etc. than I am used to. Well let's see if he (or she) answers this one and then I will try for the vitamin upgrade.
Well that is all for now. Enjoy life and write soon!!!
Letter to the Superintendent.
May 6, 2005
To: Deputy Superintendent of Administration
From: Prison Pete
I was told by the staff of the commissary that I should write to you about additional items for the commissary.
In order to provide some healthier options, I would respectfully request your consideration for adding the following items:
1. Brown Rice - According to the United States Department of Agriculture, brown rice has 3.5 grams of fiber per cup while white rice has only .6 grams. The availability of the brown rice would be beneficial to those of us that are trying to increase the amount of fiber in our diets.
2. Mrs. Dash seasoning - This is a natural, no MSG, no salt, brand of spices. They offer several different combinations. The can goods currently sold in the commissary tend to be rather high in salt. The only seasoning currently available is Sasson, which contains MSG, and Adobo which has salt as the primary ingredient.
It is my understanding that the current institutional policy prohibits inmates from receiving either of the above items in food packages.
3. Pretzels - There is currently no low fat/low sugar snack food on the PC commissary list. We have plenty of chips (high fat) and cookies (high fat and sugar) but no type of "healthier" snack food.
4. Low fat single serving mackerel - While in the federal prison system, I was able to lower my cholesterol over thirty points, from 205 down to 175, by using the mackerel as a high protein, low fat main course in my meals. The particular single serving we used was around 110 calories, 20 of them were fat calories and there was 21 grams of protein.
I want to thank you in advance for your consideration of this issue.
Around 2:15 on Saturday.
Just finished watching Ladder 49. It is real tough to watch this type of movie for me. I get all teary eyed. Tough to hold in the emotions.
It is very hard to watch any type of love expressed on the screen, with the lack of it under my current surroundings. Besides the grainy picture, the ability of most of the inmates to sit still and listen to the audio, and the threat of breaking into tears. Why the powers that be cannot get a power booster off the back of the VCR?
Someone is using the damn hot pot as a fryer again and it seems every time they use the margarine and proceed to burn it down to its component parts I end up with a splitting headache. It seems that the ventilating system does not put much fresh air in to this room. They do not have any filters on the intake either.
Yeah I know I am bitching again.
I actually broke down and played some spades with Tom and Bill. We were in the card playing room, and for the first hour my bunkie, Mark, was there so we played four-handed and the next hour we played three-handed. I was reading the paper but put it aside to join them and now they want more of my time.
I was about to climb on to the bunk and return to the reading but do not want to fall behind on the stuff the mailbox competition that I am working on. I was hoping that I would have gotten a letter yesterday, but maybe it will be waiting for me at Monday's mail call?
The point is that I also do not want you to feel that I am not writing to you if you do not do the blog. It is not like I have nothing to do. I still have not really come up with a schedule of how much time to spend doing all that I need to do. At this point the reading of the books has taken the hit.
I did go out and do the hour walking thing, and I really want to make that an must do each day. It is too easy to skip one day and then two days and then... besides I have to admit it is an interesting time for me since I am usually walking by myself and without the radio, I am forced to spend the time dealing with ME.
On the one hand you might say so what is the problem, narcissist, time by himself should be a piece of cake. Since I have been working on that part of my personality it is not always as much fun as it used to be.
I do not know if it was one of my letters to you but I know I told Mom and Dad that I have never felt so productive and in a few different areas. I started off talking about the hour of walking. The structure here does lend itself to keeping with a program so to speak. When you go out to walk you have to stay out for the full hour. Basically the option is walking or walking.
Then it was back in for brunch, count at 11:15, I managed to shower and shave before noon and then it was off to the movies. They will have the weekend 3:15 count shortly, and then I will be back to type out the rest of this letter.
I still want to spend some time on the papers today. I have made out the Hamilton order for the C++ programming book and will need to type a short note to my parents. It is getting warm in here, I am sweating just sitting here typing.
I still have a whole pile of articles I want to write about. I am going to work on a few polished pieces and send them to the Times. I know the odds of getting them to publish something are slim, but they will be a lot higher if I actually send them something in the first place.
I am enclosing the last two "shakedown" reports, If you would be kind enough to make a couple copies of them both on the same page. I want to keep one for my records here and another to send to mom and dad. The point is that my locker is actually in worse shape than when Mr. King "inspected" it. Also it is rather soon for another shakedown, the one before the King one was over thirty days ago.
There is really nothing I can do about the difference in the way the reports read. If Mr. King happens to look at my locker again next week, I could not whip out the report from today and say, "Well, so and so had no problem with it." It is just further proof how individual this system is!
I am listening to a pseudo rap song that is on the pop station that takes the lyrics form "If I Was a Rich Man" for Fiddler on the Roof and keeps the basic melody. The words were changes to If I was a rich girl.
I know I have asked this before, but if you could look for magazines that deal with C++ programming, I am assuming that I will not have a problem getting them sent in here. In all honesty, PC magazine is really pretty useless on the one hand since product reviews are not really relevant to me. I do like to see the problems that users have and some of the columnists are interesting but on the whole it does not really give me much meat to sink my teeth into.
I also assume that while there are always changes in systems programming is still going to be needed, and while the languages might change, the logic does not. Even if they have "end-user" programming; spread sheets, macros etc. there will always be a need to be able to yet under the hood and tinker. And yes I am certainly a tinkerer.
I am thinking of easy things to start with that should not be very complicated programs to write. One I get the hang of it, I would love to develop ones that could mine the financial reporting sites of our elected officials.
What I am assuming is that once complete, you could launch the program and it would be able to open a website as if it were a file on the local drive. Read a bunch of information, build a local file and then be able to print reports bases on that data.
Well, no letter went out to you yesterday,
but I did end up writing four and a half pages to Mom and Dad.
I spent most of the morning and afternoon reading and clipping my way through the New York Times. It is amazing the amount of information one can gather from that paper and not even try hard.
I was listing to the Tom Likas show the other night (blowmeuptom.com). He has a one-track agenda that is based on the premise that men can treat women badly and get all the sex they want. Marriage is for suckers. He apparently made a statement on the air that he world sleep with a fourteen year old girl if it was legal. Someone had called in to challenge that statement, and he simply stood by the statement.
I think that it is interesting that he can say that the only thing stopping him from doing this was the legal system. Does he always obey the speed limit? Why is one law more important than another?
One of the guys from Long Island is having his son come up and visit him this weekend. They basically only have two types of cars. Big gas guzzler Suburbans, or a Corvette. The son is a contractor and owns the company. To save the gas, he is renting a mid-size car and writing it off on the company. Legal? No.
Last night, on Love Line one caller was concerned because his seven month pregnant wife was turning into a sex machine. She wanted him to take her anally. He was afraid it would be harmful. What is normal?
I am working this into something along the lines that one must not lay back and let life just happen. Why can I convey my feelings about Frank and have Summer respond so specifically to what I am feeling?
My mom would never give me that same response. The only time she ever said someone was wrong for me was when it came to Karen. Obviously I was able to put the feelings down in a way that hit a chord with her. I am able to drive Frank crazy. In the past I would have done anything to be his friend.
The point, one has to be proactive. Since you can not force a person to change, you have to change. That is certainly one of the things that are threaded all through the "Worst Enemy" book. I do not do this from a position of a know-it-all. I have come to realize that you can possibly get something you thought impossible, if you are more aware of the position of the other person. This goes for parent-child relationships too.
I was thinking that it would be a credit to any parent if each of their kids actually grows up with different personalities. That hockey story of the mom with cancer and the brothers both in hockey sounds nice to have the whole family involved in the same activity, but what if the younger child found that the only way to get attention was to do the family thing.
Yep, there are no right answers. I am not really as obsessive as my letters portray, I do become overly zealous on some subjects, and it is the preacher thing. I think I speak from a position of more knowledge and do delight in the possibility that I might eventually come up with something you can use. You have been good at telling me when a particular idea is something you can relate to and I thank you for that.
I am babbling a bit here and hope some of it makes sense, but a lot of what I am saying is now backed up with real life experience. In the past this experience I might not have had in the first place and then even if I did, did not pay attention to the meaning of it.
Being willing to change my own behavior instead of ending up beating my head against the same brick wall, opens up all sorts of new avenues. Now it is almost like a game, which way am I going to deal with this issue now. Mind you it does also carry a high degree of risk, in that you could end up making a real boneheaded move that might make things worse.
I have to be honest; as I am typing this I am having flashbacks to Karen. Again if someone is willing to go to such extremes for me, why did I not get the damn message? She had certain behaviors that I could depend on. I mean this in a negative way. Those things that she did that I could use as justification to not do something. The old keeping score thing. Remember also that it is easier to blame things that are not going well on others.
But once I accepted the possibility that I could actually change the way I reacted to things, I could also begin to gather much more relevant information to base further changes on.
One really simple example, I realize that you are never going to match my output as far as writing goes, but the fact is that once I got myself up to the point where I was putting out five to eight pages a day, well I actually feel like I am letting myself down if I do not type that much each day. They say the average writer aims for doing three pages a day. Hey if I can do six, imagine the possibilities.
It is that type of thinking that keeps me moving forward. I do admit that I am still not operating in a vacuum. I do depend on feedback from others. Yes I do look forward to your letters, but I also try to build in a level of expectation that is within the realm of what you are most likely to do.
I will still let you know when I think you are not telling me something I was looking for, like the mention of the hot pot not getting in, but not mentioning the court action.
I have taken on the same approach with Mom and Dad. Instead of harping them for their answer about the monthly allowance thing, I wrote a more upbeat letter about what was going right. I sent them twenty more completed crosswords.
I have now completed, in order, the first 54 out of 1,000 puzzles. I keep grinding them out and hate to admit it but some of the clues that I could never remember are now beginning to become permanent.
Yes I could always find a puzzle in the book of 1,000 that I could complete without breaking into a sweat. Now, by pushing myself, using the dictionary to look up the ones that I am having trouble with, sure enough some of the hard work is paying off.
This some of the stuff flying through my mind. I am here to offer you my support. I am here to offer you my support. I am happy to listen to your bitching. Lord knows you have read a ton of mine. That also is a part of the strength in our relationship.
Need to lift the emotional.
It is 1:00 PM. I did go out to walk this morning for an hour. I needed to use the physical to lift the emotional.
As I wrote to my parents yesterday, physically and intellectually I am doing well. The emotional pare of me is being tortured beyond belief. There is very little available here to feed the emotional part of me. That is a real problem, since it is the most likely of the three areas to profoundly affect my writing to you. It is hard to not sound needy, and like a lost soul when that is the truth. This is only a self-observation, I need to not nave all my letters to you sound the poor Pete theme.
Now that I understand some of the time consuming things, lot me offer a few suggestions. If I am indeed stuck here for years, the only asset I can build up over that time would be my writing. One has to wonder how much value there would be in events that are years old. Will the journey even have any literary value?
If I continue to send you sided one use carbon, or ribbon would you scan them in say once a week.
Once every weak to ten days, I send you a bunch of posts. I do a mix of my current surroundings and general posts, with the names and other identities already changed.
These pages will be either typed using a ribbon or one use carbon paper, if I can ever find a source.
I know you spent a lot of time on the blog, and often I was not aware of where your efforts were being spent and what I could do to help.
It was pure torture for me to try and convert my sloppy handwriting and mismatched thoughts into something worth posting on the blog. You really did put a tremendous amount of work into being my editor and I am grateful. I know my typed letters are still not perfect but I can see where the problems are and am constantly on guard no bring the level of my writing up.
I will work to eliminate as many errors as possible. Would this be a possible scenario?
I still send you frequent letters, and once every week to ten days I send you pages for b1og. You scan when you have chance.
I just sent the order for ribbons, etc. out to Mom end. Dad yesterday, and hopefully they will be able to place it by the end of this week. I will keep copies of anything I send you this week and retype with ribbon if you decide that you will create an image/text file.
I really do not want to borrow any more carbon paper, especially if I need to use each one only once. Would renting some hard disk space to store image files be an option? Who is to say the company would not vaporize at some point?
Well it is ten minutes to four and I am going to eat their alternate meal tonight of red beans and rice, no meat. Will come back and proof and print.
Well the mail and dinner are done; I still have not received the catalogs for that inmate food company, UP North, and Staples.
I also have not received the Hitchcock Shoes. If you could find the plain tan over the ankle work boot. I believe it may come with and without Steel toe. I think it cost between $150 and $200.
To err is human, but why couldn't someone err this one on me?
According to an article in the April 21, 2005 edition of the New York Times there is at least one lawyer in New York City that remembers what ethics are. His name is Gary S. Mayerson.
I do not know what law school he attended. Whoever his ethics professor was, he also deserves a thank you on behalf of the taxpayers of New York City. Why you might ask?
Well it seems there was a tiny little error made on a check due one of Mr. Mayerson clients. The check was supposed to be in the amount of $86,415.75. It was to cover the special educational services for a child with autism.
The error, which was not caught by anyone involved on the issuing side of the check, involved the use of two extra zeros and that pesky little decimal point. The check was issued in the amount of 8.6 MILLION dollars ($8,641,575.00). If this lawyer was operating on a contingency percentage fee basis, he is even more to be congratulated, and pitied for the scorn that he is probably subjected to form his fellow lawyers.
Can you not hear the bar room talk now: "Hey did you guys hear the stupid thing Gary did? It is guys like him that can give the rest of lawyers a bad name! Now they will expect all of us to behave in an ethical manner. It only takes one goodie-goodie to screw it up for the rest of us.
Other items in the article are equally disturbing. "'This is not the first sizable overpayment we have returned to the city,
' he wrote in a letter attached to the check." The actual amount of the check was $8,641,575.00, and according to the article, the error was made by the Education Department. Maybe the employees there should be forced to take some of those proficiency tests that are so common now with the "No Child Left Behind Act", seems to me there may be a few employees in the Education Department that may indeed be left behind or maybe should just be left (out).
Two more comments and then we can drag this well beaten dead horse (I can not help it, I have no life so I feel free to pick on others) off the glue factory or fast food processing center which ever is closer.
"Bruce Fieg, the chief financial officer for the Education Department, confirmed the error 'was made in this side.' He said it was unfortunate because the department was two weeks away from installing a new system designed to prevent such errors.
It appears from the article that this was not the case of an insider, Education Department employee, working with an outsider, the lawyer. Not only did the lawyer return the check, which he certainly could have cashed, but he does mention this is not the first check he has returned. Hey if the "systems" in place allowed for the check to be issued in the first place, what system would have caught it as a possible error on the bank reconciliation?
One would think that only a few people and/or "systems" would allow the entry of 8 MILLION dollar checks. What is the new system, hiring people that know the how to find how the decimal point on the computer keyboard? Maybe the newly designed system will have pop-up dialog box that asks, "Are you sure you want to issue a check for over a MILLION DOLLARS, this is not the New York State Lottery or Power Ball prize is it?"
Since I am forbidden to hold a job while in prison, I am willing to give the above "system" to the Education Department for free. I would love to know how much they paid for this new system.
Another comment from Mr. Feig, which makes me wonder what his qualifications were to become the chief financial officer (maybe former Enron worker?). When describing last year's over budget amount of $140 MILLION, he said, "On a $13 BILLION [caps added] budget, $140 MILLION [caps added] is not a huge number.
" Yes, tell that to the teachers scrambling around for basic supplies. $140 MILLION pocket change.
When is it too early to start your Christmas Shopping?
Holidays are tough in prison. Christmas is probably the hardest one to try and ignore since it is splashed all over all mediums of media. Television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and most prisons and jails do something to let you know Christmas is coming.
It is always disheartening to see that first commercial on TV selling some incredibly useless thing for Christmas, knowing that once there is one, there is going to be more and more and more.
I have not watched any television since I have arrived at my current undisclosed secure location, and no, I have not seen Dick Chaney. I was not thinking about Christmas at all, but I came across something in the New York Times that managed to break the record for letting me know it was never too early to think about Christmas 2005.
No this was not just a little tiny mention, but a full page, in living color, advertisement for the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular. The advertisement appeared on April 17, 2005. The Spectacular opens with its first performance on November 3 and continues through January 2, 2006. One possible use for this as was that it does let me know that Christmas is on a Sunday this year.
We now return you to thoughts of spring flowers and summer vacations.
Well it is Monday afternoon,
I had meatballs for dinner, and came back to your Wednesday letter.
I am never quite sure how you will take some of my comments, and one would think that by now I would err on the side of being sure that any comments I make could never be taken "the wrong way." Whatever that way is. I am okay with your decision on the blog, and knew it would come some day. I also have no problem with you seeking a volunteer to take over blog. And yes to giving out my name.
I always wonder which letters you have actually read, as you are writing to me, and figure that some question or issue you raise are already on their way to you to straighten out a point of confusion. I am fairly sure since the events happened on same day that you knew about my latest (and possibly fatal) court decision yet you mentioned the hot pot but not the court case?
I am left to wonder (and I know this may seem silly to you) why you failed to mention it, and if it somehow has an effect on what you say in the letter. In this case, I say I might just be in for another ten years and you decide to cut back all the work you do on my behalf? I do not mind, it is the wondering that gets me.
Maybe I am asking you for something you do not want to share, but I do recall a comment you made at one other point about should you bother with me, if I am not getting out any time soon. I am not saying you have no power to make any unilateral decisions, you do. I am saying that sometimes it seems to me you may skip over some of your thought process that would be helpful to me.
I am at a loss for what I have sent that makes any sense to you and what may be a waste of time.
I realize that in the past I would not give as much thought to my actions or the meaning behind the actions of others.
There has obviously been some degree of misunderstanding built into our correspondence, and I might be at fault for not picking up on those issues sooner, and then when I do touch base with the issue again, it is off on a life of its own.
Well it is almost count time (5:25 PM) and I am going to try and call Mom and Dad after the count. Might as well get all the bad news out of the way at one time. More to follow!
Okay, 6:20 PM, I guess I will enclose the two page post I was working on before I got your letter.
One good thing about giving up the blog is hopefully I can get a couple of hours to have you compile a C program! I would envision you scanning in some code, running it through the compiler, and then sending me the compile errors. You only have to return the error report; I will have copy of code. I fix the code and send it back to you. I do not want to attract too much attention of the incoming mail people. Remember, I seal the outgoing mail!
It would appear that this would not happen more than once every two weeks. I can see the discipline it would enforce on me. It would obviously be to my advantage to work in short, concise routines so I am not forced to retype pages of code to correct a few errors. I will order that basic C++ book from Hamilton.
I bet you are wondering if I called home. Yeah I did, right after the count as I said I would. I have been stewing over how to characterize the call.
The first words from Dad were, "Why you are calling?" I guess the fact that they never answered back with a suggested schedule of calls meant do not call. It is hard to reconcile the fact that my parents might really be operating at a reduced capacity, as opposed to giving me the feeling that I am an intrusion.
I got a letter from Smith Corona about the typewriter problems and asked dad to call them to see if he could move the issue along, and he said they had taken all my letters with them so they could write to me, but then they were so busy!
Well, I was rushed off the phone and left feeling not much different than when I started the call. Could be worse, I could have felt worse.
I have a pile of stuff that I was going to write about, but I will hold off for now.
I understand you are not giving up the blog to have me fill up those hours with other stuff for me. I am clear on that. I will continue writing to you, without expecting an even exchange in terms of volume or frequency.
If we get an interested party to take over blog, great; if not, then I can use my time to do some other types of writing, all of which you will be the first to see. It will be great if I do end up with a few pen pals, but I will not hold my breath. It did seem that Summer was willing to write to me directly.
The scanning questions answered! Yes, it points out how out of the loop I really am, but once given the basic info things become so much clearer! I am so out of touch with the real world that I guess in some cases I really do need to some of the most basic information.
I am a lot stronger emotionally today than ever before. I know what makes me tick, and what things, emotional, intellectual, and physical work to make me stronger in all three areas.
For example, while walking is primarily a physical activity, it certainly helps clear the cobwebs out of both the intellectual and emotional parts of my brain. Eating low fat/high protein food certainly affects all three areas. When I know what works, I look at what my current resources are and design the best support system I can.
I do not know if I can explain it adequately enough, but let me try. There is no one here that I can really have an intelligent conversation with. I write to you, and get back comments and more questions. I have no one to help bleed off some of the excessive emotional energy that is inside me.
I end up seeking some validation of my humanity from other inmates. While still not being able to tame the excess energy. This then leads me into a somewhat subservient position and that does little to relieve the original problem, it only adds to it. If I was at Club Fed, I would be in with Dr. G or at the least be able to kick it around with Mike, my walking partner.
It is now 8.15 PM and I have filled out my commissary list. I am getting five additional twenty-three cent stamps (fifteen total) in addition to the twenty thirty-sevens. Also ordering eight large envelopes. I am buying enough of the fixings to make four of the been meals. The other two guys have less the $3.00 to spend.
I really am not in that a great position to share, but for now the guys are friendly enough to share with. Bill, will be getting packages from the outside and Tom may eventually get some money in. I am not spending much time with the two of them and am not trying to buy their friendship. More along the lines that we can work together on the food and all three benefit.
Getting forty-eight cans of soda. That will give me three a day. Wonder if the extra caffeine will help with my typing. It does not hurt.
Okay, my twenty-three cent stamp comment may have been a little out of line. I am troubled by the feeling that you are waiting for the other shoe to drop. I can understand your wife not wanting me around. No problem. My perception of the portrayal of me being a shady character is discomforting.
I am honest with you; I share my thoughts with you, and am reluctant to discuss some things in detail only because of the emotional energy required and the lack of resources to deal with it.
I have a very high appreciation and respect for you and what you have done with your life. I am pretty sure I have mentioned that certainly one major change in my personality has been the loss of my sense of entitlement.
One of the sub headings was the sense that others with money should give me money because of some misplaced sense of "justice." I no longer feel that way and understand clear boundaries as to what is yours is yours, and conversely what is mine is mine.
I realize this actually has helped me in, I have less guilt when I decide to withhold my resources, be it time or money, from others around me. The other byproduct is that I also realize that what I do have is of value.
While it has been mentioned on the blog a number of times that I have a lot of time, the fact is I have the same twenty-four hours as everybody else. All the time I have been spending on the typewriter over the last two weeks has drastically cut into my reading time! I finally finished a book yesterday, and when I went to write it in the log, it was my first entry in almost two weeks.
I thought I made it clear from the get-go that I was not expecting you to pay for the food. I thought I was going to be at Downstate for many months. True, you may not be able to ask much from me, but you certainly enjoy my writing, and are quick to complain if a few days go by and you do not have a letter from me. Yes I do realize that reading all I write takes time also, and I am grateful and comforted by the fact that you do read all I write.
I do feel you benefit from a lot of the stories of prison life I pass on. You do not owe me anything for them. I am not sure you understand the high emotional cost to me, giving you some of the details of my life. They are incredibly painful memories and if I was to constantly dwell on the time I must spend in prison, it would no longer be a life worth living! I must have a portion of my emotional self believe in the act of redemption.
If not, do I simply exit prison, lie down on the road, and wait for the cars to run over me? Am I to be a "freak show" while in prison. Please understand I am not ranting against you. This what a good relationship does, it has a give and take. I am not looking for someone to "blow smoke up my panties" as Reverend Paul once mentioned. By the way I did get a letter from him a week ago that I have still not answered because of all the typing I have been doing.
While on the one hand I have lots of free time, between my paper reading and typing, my days are full. I could do option 2 and cancel the paper, forget about writing as much, and go back to reading a book a day. Actually I have not finished a novel in over a week now.
I am busy. It has gotten so that if I am not at the table typing, three or four inmates are quick to point out my absence.
The question keeps coming back to what am I and what is my worth. Tom is the Hispanic guy on the next bunk, I am not sure his exact crime but his victims are suing him for 14 million dollars.
Yen it is like the question my Dad asks, "Can you love the sinner, but not the sin?" My mom and dad send money, write occasionally, visit, and say they love me. Other family members refuse to acknowledge my existence. Yet they are active church members. Where is their spiritual forgiveness?
Well you say that is for everyone but you. If I don't qualify, then put me out of my misery. Do not jerk me around with talk of this or that program I have to take, or surround me with people that have killed others and have less time than me.
Well the packages and mail have been distributed. I did get the Robert Ludlum books and the Civil War Novel you ordered from Amazon. Thank You.
The chaplain at Beckley told me he would always welcome me to his church. Now, was he just blowing smoke? I do not know. I do know we talked deeply on a few occasions and it was his support that had me working in the chapel and working at practicing the piano and organ. I have written about some of the bright stars I have come across on my journey of the last of the eight years.
I know this is harder to read and nowhere near as coherent as some of my typing but I would be lucky if could do minutes per word. Do I have a brain problem, a learning disability? Did that fall off the slide back at in elementary school damage my frontal lobe, said to be the part of the brain that governs behavioral decisions? Why can I sometimes type four of five words with no problem then next minute all the wrong keys?
Even it I have some disability or progressive disease, (I can not spell either), I am not sure what can be done about it under my current conditions. When I know the difference between two and too, why would I type he wrong word? Is it just a common error when the mind wanders while typing? I do not know.
The point? What I did was wrong. Now what. To be honest, a part of me was saying to just forget the appeal. That was before they threw it out and not I did not purposely sabotage the case. It gets to the point where I am getting very tired of constantly having to fight for what is legally right. I will just go ahead and rot away in prison.
You are a bright spot. You provide me with hope that I might be able to exist in the free world someday. That is what 1 hope I might receive with some of the blog readers.
Just a short note to finish up my night.
It is now 8:20 PM and I have finally finished all the typing of my handwritten letters.
I have not reread your last letter yet, but will hopefully look at it sometime this week. Yeah I know, chicken.
I did take some time tonight to write a couple pages to Reverend Paul.
I am going to straighten out my locker as soon as this letter is in the mailbox.
I have read some more of the "Worst Enemy
" book. It is still holding my interest and I am willing to accept some, if not all, of the theories he presents.
I have not bothered to call Mom and Dad; they were supposed to be back home late Friday. I figured I would wait till midweek to see if they write a letter.
I am getting spoiled. I have been able to have seven pages of typing in and no freeze-ups. Do not know if problem is fixed or what. I will be doing some more post tomorrow. I am going to jump in shower and call it a night.
PS I thank you for the latest books. I have read the first few pages of the Civil War book The Killer Angels
, it looks interesting and I understand the premise of the author. Like Deadwood on HBO, writing that attempts to present a "true picture", but as the author said, using some modern day language so as to be able to convey the message of those times.
This bounces around a bit,
and the following was written out before dinner.
It is okay to look at a whole person, acknowledge some parts may not be exactly to your liking, but on the whole the person is still some one you can relate to on a consistent basis. The thing that drives me crazy and so common in prison, is consistently talking about how somebody drives you crazy and yet you spend all
The thing is the refusing to do anything about it part. I am fairly sure I told you how Frank drove me crazy with his controlling ways.
The Sunday Times arrived today, and I offered the Book Review section to him, which he took. But I have basically refused to allow him to control my actions, listening to his long winded explanations of simple questions or his lame attempt at humor by giving out bogus information or his pointing out "faults" that he is the guilty of.
He tried to offer me his half-eaten spaghetti yesterday, which I turned down. I had said "here is the hardest working inmate here" to one of my neighbors yesterday. He was helping with the commissary and had carried my two cases of soda back. Frank made an attempt to make my comment apply to him by saying, "Keep my name out of your conversation.
" I shot back, "Don't worry, your name was not part of the conversation!"
In the past I would put up with whatever Frank dished out, because I wanted to be his friend, even in here while it was nice to be included in the meals, I made sure I carried my weight to be sure I was not beholden to anyone.
When these types of relationships would happen in my younger years, and I would tell my mom how this or that person really did not like me, she would always tell me, "No, they do like you.
I still give Frank the Book review, and feel free to correct him when he oversteps the boundaries I have set up for that relationship. He constantly berates my bunkmate, and treats him like his personal houseboy, and I can do nothing about that. In the past that would very much have been me. The power I have without resorting to violence or nastiness of any kind, is in itself uplifting.
I have an inability to communicate my wants and needs to those around us in a way that they can then meet those needs and wants. I think you will agree that I have been able to communicate what I would like you to so for me. Still based on some of the comments from the blog, it appears some things have not been as clear as I thought.
You also have been clear with what you like and do not like about my letter writing/friendship.
The key is that we must see a person as made up of a series of parts, and realize we can not change any of those parts, but can work on how we deal with those parts.
I am just going to dig right in to typing the handwritten letters.
Was your comment on sending you drafts about sending you these handwritten notes and then sending the typed copy? I do this for two reasons, the sooner I send you something, the sooner you get it. The second reason is that the incentive to follow through is greater once I send it to you.
There is a certain "honesty" that this late night writing brings out that I think is worth getting to you a.s.a.p. Lately I have found myself struggling with getting a rhythm [mental block on that word, how the hell you supposed to find it when you have no clue that the second letter is an 'h' and I am thinking vowel] on the typewriter and the finished product while certainly a tighter read, lacks some of the more candid comments.
For the last seven years I have eagerly waited to be called to visiting on my birthday. I knew my parents were not coming, but I still had the hope that they would surprise me just once. I was finally able to verbalize this wish/disappointment with one or two of the guys I walked with at Beckley.
One thing that came close was the package that came a few weeks back after not having heard from Mom and Dad for a while. This was after they had written there would be no extra food packages.
Does this make sense? Yes, it is selfish to want you to spend your valuable time on me. Having worked on being a little more patient, well good things do come to those that wait. Despite your claims of not being a people person and not knowing how to relate to me, you did. By the way, this does not mean you are not allowed to get pissed off at me when the need arises.
Yes the length of the letter was nice, but, it was not just the quantity, you covered the complete spectrum. There were i yams that applied mostly to you, stuff that applied to both of us, and finally items that were strictly for my benefit.
The good news is you do not have to worry where your next dollar is coming from. Money problems here adds another whole level of stress for me. Compulsive high achievers bring out the stress on ourselves and then turn to others to relieve our stress, without giving any clues as to how to help.
My asthma is letting me know that this is getting stressful.
Sometimes that may actually mean you let go of some ideas and try others. While my parents are still "tough cookies" on sending me actual money, they do not mind buying me books, food, and other things.
I purchased the "One Thousand Crossword Puzzles" book I had in the Feds. In order to prove I actually use the book, I am working my way through the book and sending the completed pages to Mom and Dad.
Also, instead of calling on the phone all excited about the "Your Own Worst Enemy" book, I took the extra time and sent them three and a half pages of excerpts. [I did cheat and send you the same pages.]
In both cases I am changing my behavior based on my perceptions of how my parents see me. It will take more than a few pages of puzzles and book excerpts to convince them their money is not being wasted. I am working on new ways to get my feelings across.
It is now 2;00 AM and most of the bed lights are off. I am going to mail this now in case I over sleep in the morning.
Hope your enjoy reading this, more to come.
This letter will not self destruct,
nor will you be asked to go on any dangerous missions with no support from you superiors, or.... Wait a minute, I have no idea where this letter will go, and if it goes into any of those wonderful romantic suggestions well, truth be told you damn sure are on your own, because on the off chance you take one (or more) of the suggestions, revealing the source of the idea could be hazardous to your health.
I thought about it and hope you realize that if you do take any of my suggestions, and they work, do not say aloud in a fit a fit of exaltation, "Wow, Pete had a great idea!" Doing so would not be conducive to the continued success of that activity. Blaming me for a failure, aloud, would also bring grave consequences upon your head.
Since I have fully disclosed my lack of any professional degrees or licenses, and I have collected no fees, you can not sue me for malpractice.
It is Wednesday, 12:15 PM. I have spent the morning asleep on the bunk, and not had lunch yet. I did just open my first Diet Coke of the day, and will take a break in a bit for a bowl of oatmeal. We did not have hot cereal this morning so I am going to have oatmeal for lunch on those days and see how that works.
I will get back to typing the handwritten letters in a minute. I wanted to share a few thoughts about our current friendship and how I am different today then in years gone by.
First of all I am more honest with myself, and some of that actually leaks out and gets written in my letters. Being in friendships where I am the financially poorer person has been a hallmark of my life. At St. Anthony's, I used to joke how I was around to show the other students what their life would be like if they were poor!
I have in the past played up the "poor me" angle and hoped for the crumbs from the rich man's table would fall to me. I never was able to translate the idea of the good life I might have if I was financially secure into a viable long range plan and lift myself up to financial ladder of success.
Karen had the approach that if you put up a rich front, people will think you are rich. I also realize she was trying to show me what I was capable of, yet I still did not get the idea that I could be any different then plain old poor Pete.
Most of my clients were smarter than me, and able to exploit my low self esteem, to their benefit. The one client that actually treated me better than all the others was the one that I was still working on when I got arrested.
Prison has taught that I can carve out an existence for myself, and see the consequence of my actions. I budget so much chocolate, and if I eat more one day I go without on another.
There is a basic level I am more comfortable with, but even with that I am making decisions for what I really need. For example, I did have my parents send me one hundred percent cotton underwear, yet I have not pursued any other clothing. I have just three sets of pants and shirts to wear, all poly blend.
When the zipper broke on one pair of pants, I had to wear muddy pants while one pair was in wash or not go out that day. In the meantime I have just asked Mom and Dad to buy me the hot pot, and a radio/tape player with the better headphones like I had at the Feds because the music is more important to one at this point than the extra clothes.
I started buying extra cokes because I do see a difference in my ability to stick with a project with caffeine. Yes, they do serve three meals a day here, but the fact is eating them is not healthy and certainly does not provide me with the protein I need to function at peak efficiency.
I am not saving any of the allowance I get, because I am very much living in the here and now! I am able to have a pretty good day when I use the limited resources I have to take care of me.
I am not totally selfish either. I have been paying for the bean meals, this week and last week I ended kicking a higher dollar value of food. This week I also brought more stamps.
I know I have pointed out the difference in our financial situations from time to time. I think this is one of those signs of a strong and healthy relationship. In the past I would have been jealous and expected you to share with poor Pete.
I do not want to belabor the point, but I clearly remember the humiliation I felt seeing my dad consistently get up at the annual church council meetings when there would be objections to the amount of his salary and he would say "No problem, cut it back."
Knowing money was short in the house and being told the message that money was not important. I could buy that argument if there was a benefit, like my dad was home every night, unlike so and so's dad that works all that overtime or two jobs. But I did not see any virtue to being poor. Yet at the same time, as an adult I chose to say money is not important, but if I needed some I would not mind asking someone else to help me out.
I have never been the richest guy in prison, nor the poorest. I think I spend the money I do get wisely, and at most times in Club Fed I worked harder than most of the inmates to secure additional funds. I could have signed up for the Unicor job, and originally could have made $200 - $300 a month, but realized very quickly that I would not fit in well with all the structure and bullshit that the jobs included.
The point is I have pursued this relationship with you not with an eye to putting my hand in your pocket. It may come across a little rough at times and my attempt at humor may fail, but I honestly respect the life you have made for your family.
While you may not believe me, it is rather liberating to be able to speak freely to you and not worry about if I say the wrong thing. I am not saying I would be someone different, but I value our relation for what we both bring to it. While the barbed wire, prison rules, and physical distance eliminate a lot of normal friendship activities, we certainly have forged a strong relationship. Yes, you would rather be able to e-mail or lift up the phone and talk to me, but the lack of those options that has forged the relationship.
Sometimes I may comment about you not relating to me, only because I have become used to that standard. You told me of your dad's letters to you while you were away at school. Now maybe you realize what a gift it was. Not just the time it obviously took, but the connection I assume it helped you feel to you home. In this instant gratification society, the e-mail my mom gets from the relatives is often filled with meaningless drivel, Letter writing is truly a gift of self. I realize it every time I sit down to write, why I hated writing, everything else stops. Even if I am writing off the cuff, I feel the need to speed up and finish to be free to move on to the next thing.
Everyone always thought my dad was a great person, they never connected his constant availability with absence at home, yet I certainly still picked up the "servant" persona. I am not writing all this to boost up my ego,
It is now 1:30 PM and I have just been asked to clear off the table I am working on so that they can have a going home party for one of the lucky guys. I am going to go read the NY Times for a bit. Will return to work after dinner. We get a whole slice of pizza today. I will probably have tuna latter on. I did just make a peanut butter sandwich, forgot about the oatmeal. Well, I will do the oatmeal now and then read.