By Robert Pruett  999411, aka Simple Man
Week 18 2006

May 1, 2006
It'll be interesting to see how big the mail bag is tonight. It's usually small on Mondays because they have to sort through Saturday's mail, too (they stopped working on Saturdays about two years ago), but they don't have to pick up our mail anymore, so maybe that'll free them up to get more of our mail to us on Mondays? We'll know shortly, second shift is changing out with first as I write this. The mail bag generally arrives around 6:30pm and the picket officer sorts it out according to cell location, then the floor officers (rovers) pass it out.

Today was a surprisingly productive one. Despite the fact that people were bugging me all day, I got a lot of work done on my autobiography. I'd put my earplugs in and begin writing, but every 15-20 minutes someone would yell my name for one reason or another. About 3pm they put a friend in the dayroom and he climbed the bars in front of my cell to talk to me, so I reluctantly found a stopping point and entertained him. It's cool though, he always provides stimulating conversations, I like talking to the dude.

I have a remedy for all these distractions though! Beginning tomorrow I'm going to put a curtain on my door, put my earplugs in, turn my fan on, and ignore everyone! :-) When someone has a curtain on their door it's against prison etiquette to disturb them. Whoever's in the dayroom can see that you have something covering your door and he won't bother you (most of the time; some guys have no clue about prison etiquette), and if someone in a cell calls you the dayroom will let him know you're busy. Additionally, I told everyone that I'm super busy during the weekdays and if they want to communicate with me they should do so while I'm at rec or before 10am. Otherwise I won't engage with them. I don't mean to be an asshole, I just have to get this done. Too much time has passed as it is.

The mail bag was just as small as it always is on Mondays. Policy states that they are required to get us our mail within 24 hours of receiving it and they are supposed to send our mail out within 24 hours as well, excluding weekends and holidays. The exception to the rule is that if you are under investigation (for whatever reason) they get an additional 24 hours to scrutinize your mail. When the current mailroom supervisor's predecessor, Ms. Long, was in charge, they didn't abide by this policy most of the time. But let me assure you that the new supervisor makes one wish Ms. Long never would've left! This new woman is so out of compliance it's unbelievable. Just last Friday (the 28th), I received a letter from Dallas, Texas postmarked on the 20th. Eight days to get a letter from within the state? That's insane. Can someone explain what they do down there? I heard a rumor that the new supervisor hates inmates; whether or not there's any substance to that rumor remains to be seen, but she sure hasn't dispelled it by her actions thus far.

May 2, 2006
We're making store tomorrow, everyone's stoked about that. Second shift announces if we're making store the next day when they arrive and when they tell us we are, it invariably creates a buzz throughout the pod. Just as people who are free sometimes allow material things to control them, a lot of guys in here live for that commissary. I'm not amongst them. Unless I'm out of the essential items (hygiene, writing supplies, and soups) I'm kind of indifferent about it. As long as I have the basic stuff and what I need to subsist, I'm cool. That being said, I'm running out of everything again, so I'm glad we're making store tomorrow! ;-)

After tossing and turning all night, I went to rec first round this morning. As I mentioned, I want to remain on a daytime schedule, it just doesn't look like my body wants to comply! After rec I read a little until they brought the chow, then I ate my tray (the food on the tray, not the actual tray itself, I'm not THAT hungry! ;-) ) and crashed out. I slept past 1pm. It's 9:55pm now and I'm not in the least bit tired, I might stay up until breakfast writing. My writing, incidentally, is progressing rather nicely, I'm ahead of schedule.

On that note I will wrap this one up. "Mandatory Metallica" is on (94.5 The Buzz plays three Metallica songs every weeknight at 10pm) and I'm going to listen to the rest of it then get back to work. Laters.

May 3, 2006
As it turns out, I crashed out after midnight last night and arose just past 8am, so I'm not back on the night shift, thankfully. I really don't want to be staying up all night and struggling to sleep during the day. Anyhow, I woke up and read some more of Brimstone (it's turning out to be an excellent book!), then I resumed work on my writing until rec time, which was a little after 1pm. I exercised for over an hour out there, sweating like a prostitute in a church house, then I talked to Randy (Texas 7) for the remainder of my rec. He's losing his mind! :-) No, I'm kidding, he's hanging in there. After rec I continued writing until they showered me on second shift, then I fixed me up some tuna and began this entry. Exciting day, huh? I actually had a good time.

Earlier I was talking to Randy about getting a band going. Yeah, you read that right, a band! :-) It's impossible to do anything now, but if ever I get put on a section with at least three musically inclined individuals, then I think I can get something going. One of us can sing, another can beat on the bunk to make the sound of a drum beat, and someone else can make the guitar sound with his mouth. We'd have to practice and get coordinated, but after a while I'll bet we could produce some good music! When I was in seg on Connally unit I was around a group of dudes who were dedicated with regards to creating music and we had a nice thing going over there. It would be awesome if I could get around some people willing to work with me and get a band started over here. We could perform rock and country and entertain half the pod! :-) One of these days I'll get something like that going. In the meantime, I'll be a one man show! :-)

May 4, 2006
Rumor has it that a guy named Kevin was speared in his skull by another inmate yesterday and that he had to be rushed to the hospital. They say the spear penetrated his skull at such an angle that the doctors were reluctant to remove it. Again, this is just a rumor, but my source is a guy that I trust, someone with no reason to lie, so I feel safe repeating it here. I don't know the dude who was speared. Let me be explicit: I didn't repeat the above mentioned rumor to spread gossip. That's not how I operate. But I do think the public should be informed when something like that happens to an inmate. About a year and a half ago I was speared and the incident didn't make the news until three weeks later when an officer was speared while escorting me from rec. Message received: inmates aren't important, guards are. So yeah, if I hear about an inmate getting stabbed or being involved in a Use of Force, I will record that information in my journal. And I won't simply repeat any rumor that I hear either, the source must be reliable. The dude who told me that Kevin was speared not only heard about it at visitation, he's someone who takes all rumors with a grain of salt, as I do. I felt comfortable relaying what he told me. I just want to be clear that I'm not a rumormonger, but I will relay such incidents when I learn of them.

Let me shift gears. After a month of posting journal entries online are many of you still trying to figure out who the hell I am? Am I not very self-revealing? Do I do a horrible job of expressing emotions? Am I apathetic? First of all, I do strive to live equanimously, but this doesn't mean I don't feel and experience emotions in their extremes, I most certainly do. Unlike most people though, I don't want to chase those feelings; I experience them, enjoy the moment, then release them. I think of myself as a very passionate person and I think I exhibit as much in my daily life. It is possible that I haven't adequately conveyed such things in my journal yet, but it'll all pour out before long. I don't want to pull any punches. A journal is about expressing yourself and that includes what you think, how you feel, your thoughts/perceptions, and everything else about yourself. That's what I hope to accomplish with this. I want to leave a piece of myself with all of you. And I am the type of person who tackles things cerebrally most of the time, so you'll just have to deal with that! :-) But I can be crazy, wild, and evocative and I'm quite sure that you'll see all of that before it's all said and done.

But who am I? I'm a guy who strives to maintain some semblance of a balance in a world full of opposition and contradiction. Even within my own body there's conflict, contradiction, and opposing forces. I can totally relate to Brent Smith when he sings, "The more the light shines through me, I pretend to close my eyes. The more the dark consumes me, I pretend I'm burning, burning bright" and "There's nothing ever wrong, but nothing's ever right, such a cruel contradiction!" I get it, Brent. I totally empathize. I think of life as I see creases in the fabric of the space-time continuum; I'm awed by my perceptions, yet I recognize how little I know, how ignorant I am, that I epitomize tunnel vision; I think there's a rhyme to reason, a meaning to it all, but it's ineffable, nothing like any logic we've ever comprehended. But that's okay, it's really irrelevant; it's all about experience, maturation, and growing out of adversity. For me it is anyhow. We all have to figure it out for ourselves, I think.... I'm prone to bursts of laughter, I'm not so macho that I don’t cry, I do; I love a good story and I think everyone I encounter has something to teach me (even though there are times when I find myself engaged with someone and I think, ”what the fuck is this dude talking about?! What's he supposed to teach me?” Ah, a lesson in humility)…. I do miss the intimacy of physical human contact, yet it's counterproductive, not exactly conducive to my mental well-being, to dwell on what's not possible. This is my world, this prison cell, and I involve myself with what's available to me. It doesn't mean I don't think about it, reminisce about the past, I'm just not engrossed in it. For me it's important that I be aware of the moment and don't miss out on what's happening before my eyes........ What else is there to know about me? I'm the most peaceful person you'll ever meet, but I can be aggressive and very violent if provoked. I treat people the way I want to be treated. Despite the fact that I've been betrayed by many people that I considered true friends, I am still very loyal and I trust easy (I guess I'm just stupid like that). I try to be honest, although I admit that the power of self-deception is very powerful, so this might not always work out. Again, I try to be honest, I don't consciously deceive people.

That's a brief synopsis of the person I perceive myself to be today. Of course, I am still growing and my ideas, attitudes, and dispositions will change, I get that. This is a part of the person I am right now though. And there's so much more. Hopefully I'll be able to express who I am and all of the changes that I undergo with time as I write these entries. We're all complex beings and I tend to think that it's almost impossible to truly know another, but it's so much fun trying right?! ;-)

May 5, 2006
Fletch, the nighttime DJ on Rock 103.7 out of Houston, hasn't been on the air all week. He's the one who has been playing skits from the comedians that perform at the Improv, but, when he isn't working, the fill-in DJs don't do the "8:20 Funnies." I thought that he was on vacation or something, but someone over here told me that he got in trouble for playing the new "Tool" song before he was supposed to! :-( He hasn't been working at the station for very long (maybe 4 months). I remember when he first came on he said that he had been fired from a few stations before, I guess he got himself fired again! I thought he was a cool DJ, and I loved his "8:20 Funnies”, it's gonna really suck now. They have two chicks (Lisa Kendall and Pam Kelly) alternating each night in Fletch's old spot and they just don't do it for me. They both sound hot, but their personalities are kinda......bland. I know, that's harsh, but if you're gonna work on the radio shouldn't you at least SOUND excited about it?! BRING FLETCH BACK HOUSTON!!!!!!!!!!!

Happy Cinco de Mayo!! Today is one of my favorite days of the year. I admit that I have little knowledge about this Mexican holiday (except that the Mexicans defeated the French on this day), and I'm not actually celebrating the holiday, but TDCJ feeds us some delicious Mexican food for lunch every May 5th and I do love me some Mexican food! ;-) They fed us nachos with meat sauce and cheese, Spanish rice, burritos, and chocolate brownies. They did a great job on it, too.

I missed rec again today. It was one row's turn to go first today, but 5 of the dudes down there VRed and they tried to pull me out first round. Nope, I wasn't going for it. I slept past 8:30am and read a little before breaking out my writing supplies. I wrote from about 10am until 5:30pm, with only one break for a shower just after 1pm, then I cleaned up and made some chili no/beans. They fed us good for lunch, but the last chow was slop (beef stew minus the beef), so I made my own dinner.

The mailroom sent a considerably larger mail bag today than what they've been sending all week. It looks like they want to send letters one day a week, magazines on another day, and legal mail on another day. That's the impression I get. All week long the stack of letters has been very small, but today it was extra large. I don't know what their problem is, but whatever it is I hope they get it together.

Alright, I'm outta here for tonight. I'm going to get cracking on some personal letters tonight so that I can finish up by Sunday. I'd like to resume writing on my autobiography Sunday because I think I can complete The Preface and Chapter one by Sunday night!! It's about time, huh?!

May 6, 2006
My day began at 5:45am. Right before I crashed out (after lain) last night I told myself that I wasn't going to rec this morning because I wouldn't get much sleep. But I woke up at 5:45am and felt disgusted with myself for being so lazy, so I got out of bed and prepared for rec.

They put me out there a little after 6:30am and I walked around the dayroom several times in order to get my blood circulating. The guy who lives directly below me was awake so I talked with him for probably 10 minutes about the NBA play-offs (I admit that I've been partially following them, although I do so reluctantly because pro sports turn my stomach with all the cheating the refs do for the teams that the leagues want to win in order to generate more revenue.), and then we played a couple of games of chess. I lost both games!! He's a good player, but I wasn't thinking this morning with some of the bonehead moves I made. Oh well, if I win them all people won't play anymore! Haha. I'm kidding. Anyhow, after getting cremated on the chess board, I talked with the guy in A-section for the remainder of my rec. A-section is filled with guys in ad. seg. and this particular individual told me he discharges his sentence in August! I asked him what he planned on doing once released and he said, "I think I'll travel the country for awhile until I find a place I like, then settle down there." I told him that I liked his plan.

After rec I went back to sleep (Yeah, I'm lazy!! :-) ) for a couple of hours. Just before noon they pulled me out for a shower, afterwards I began writing some personal letters. One of those letters was to my brother who's on the Telford unit. I received a letter from him last night and it took me back to when we were free. When I was in the 5th grade he used to drive me to school in the morning when we were living on the north side of Houston. We had a silly song that we'd sing on the way that always made us laugh.
"I don't want to go to work today," He'd kick it off. "I just want to stay at home and play, if I had it my way, I wouldn't go to work today!"
And then my part. "I don't want to go to school today, I just want to stay at home and play, if I had it my way, I wouldn't go to school today!"

Sure, we were corny, but we had fun together. Most of the time. Like most big brothers, he felt that he had to toughen me up, and that meant kicking my ass all the time. Everyone always told him that he'd better watch out because I'd get older and beat the crap out of him, but he did not listen. Once, I almost got the best of him. I managed to pin him up against our couch, and I really thought I had him, but he regained his composure and overpowered me. Another time, while we were in the county jail waiting for the jury's verdict in a holdover cell, I manhandled him real good! He did have a broken leg though, so I can't really take credit for a victory that time! :-) He's like 100 million and 0 against me. But we both know that if I could get my hands on him today, he wouldn't stand a chance! Hehe.......Those were the good old days.

May 7, 2006
If I had to pick one song that best expresses my state of mind seven years ago, it would be Metallica's "Fade To Black". They just played it and it reminded me of probably the lowest point in my life. I was 20 years old, the CCA had just denied my last appeal, I hadn't heard from anyone in my family in months, and I quit taking the antidepressants that the psych dept. had prescribed to me. I felt alone in a world where I didn't belong, I felt self-destructive, I felt angry at the world, and I longed for it all to end. It took some time, but I eventually pulled myself together. As I reflect back though, I remember thinking that life was over for me. I was in a seemingly perpetual state of despair and I hated everything, especially myself. While I realize that this part of my life played an instrumental role in my maturation, I'm still a bit ashamed of myself for succumbing to such extreme melancholy. Thankfully those days are over. Lesson learned though: "oh take your time, don't live too fast, troubles will come, and they will pass". It’s like that song applies to EVERYTHING!! ;-)

No way am I going to finish chapter one today!! I did finish my personal letters, and I worked on my story some, but I need to rewrite chapter 1 AGAIN and edit it at least once more. Don't get me wrong, I love to write, I just think editing is tedious. It's an essential part of the writing process though. If I take care of business tomorrow, I might get it finished by nightfall.

Like most Sundays, it's nice and quiet on the pod today. They're doing a rock block weekend on 103.7 - which means they're playing mutiple songs by each band - and they've been playing some decent stuff. I'm hoping they'll play a block of Shinedown before I finish this because afterwards I'm getting back to work on my story and I don't listen to music when I write on that. It's too distracting.

There really isn't a whole lot to report today, so I'll close this up. I think I'll read a little of Brimstone before I resume writing on my story. Talk to y'all tomorrow.

One Day at a Time,
Simple Man