By Robert Pruett 999411, aka Simple Man
Week 19 2006

May 8, 2006
The next couple of days mark a decade since I was convicted of murder (pursuant to the 'law of parties' stipulation under Texas law) and sentenced to a 99 year prison term. Some days it seems like that was just yesterday, other days it feels like eons ago. It all depends on the mood that I'm in. Right now it feels like that all happened about ten years ago.

My section had its off day for recreation today and I spent it writing. To be more accurate, I've spent the day editing and pulling my hair out! I'm not exactly satisfied with my latest draft of the preface and chapter one (will I ever be?!), but I think I'll write out the final draft tomorrow and prepare it to be posted on my website. Afterwards, I'll get right to work on chapter two. Believe it or not, I'm working diligently to get this out before the end of the summer, and I think I can accomplish that goal if I stay the course. It's just a frustrating process at times. My neighbor often says that the writing process isn't for the faint of heart and I wholeheartedly agree.

It has been hot and humid in these cells as of late. When they were shaking down they had the air conditioner turned on so that the officers could work in comfort, but they turned it down about two weeks later. This went unnoticed because it wasn't all that hot outside, yet here lately the temperature has been around 90 degrees every day. After 5pm the cell begins to really heat up. You can't even move around without breaking a sweat. My guess is that they are trying to conserve energy (money) until it gets blazing hot, that's why they cut it down........ I feel like a dork writing about the weather! Is it that boring here, or is it just me? Probably more of the latter!! ;-) If you want to know about the weather in Texas you can watch the weather station, right? Well, in my defense, I don't believe the weather station will tell you that the administration here turned our air conditioner down!

May 9, 2006
Another problem that we face living in this environment deals with psychosomatics. Living in these conditions can make a person think that he's sick or suffering from some disease, and he'll even experience the symptoms of this imagined ailment when in fact there's nothing wrong. How can that happen? When you have plenty of time to pay close attention to every ache and pain, or any other sensation, then you become susceptible to illusions that you've fallen to some malignant disease. People who are free (or not living in such a sensory deprived environment) might experience a slight pain in the back, a cramped muscle, etc..., take note of it, then dismiss it and refocus on their job or whatever task they might be doing unless it recurs. We generally don't have the luxury of such distractions, so we sometimes obsess over any ache and pain.

I bring this up because it's possible that I've succumbed to such self-deception over the past three and a half years. How can it happen if you're aware of it? I don't know. The fact is that I've been experiencing pain and discomfort in my lower abdominal area and stomach since December of 2003 and I sometimes have digestive problems. I've been to the medical department at least a dozen times since this first began and they haven't found a single thing wrong with me. At first they thought it was dehydration, but after I increased my water intake from 4-6 cups per day to 10-12, I still had these problems. I've concluded that it's either psychosomatics or they really haven't checked me out. The pain isn't at all extreme, so I won't raise too much hell unless it becomes difficult to function. If it starts to really bother me, I'll press the issue something fierce. And if I die from it, it has been documented and my friends will make TDCJ shell out a boatload of money in a lawsuit. My mom's dirt poor. She could use the money!  :-) I'll be okay. It's probably all in my head.

May 10, 2006
A long-time ago, I learned that it's not wise to sweat the small stuff in prison. Shit happens and I generally shake it off and carry on with my business as long as it isn't anything serious. I learned that some battles are worth fighting, others not so much. To illustrate this point, I haven't filed more than 10 grievances in the ten years that I've been in the TDCJ-ID and I'll bet the number is closer to five.

That being said, this issue with the mailroom has gone too far for too long. Last night I received a letter postmarked on April 15th from Switzerland. I've consistently exchanged letters with my friend over there for four years and it rarely takes longer than seven days to receive a letter from over there. Twenty-four days is totally unacceptable. I'll file a grievance on this and send letters to the warden and major, but I fear that these attempts at resolving the problem will be disregarded, as they so often are in here. After all, I'm just an inmate, on death row to boot. Years ago I heard a warden tell another inmate who had a problem, "You should've thought about that before you broke the law, boy." Translation: “We get to violate the law in order to make you suffer because you violated the law first.” Another time an officer straight up told me, "You know the difference between you and I? I ain't been caught yet."

Today has been unusually quiet. I missed rec, but I did work out prior to shower, so I don't feel like a total loser. ;-) I've decided to wait until Friday before I type out my final copy of the preface and chapter one of my autobiography. I need to wait until I receive a couple of books from the library on Friday to recheck a couple of my sources, but I'm certain that I'll have it ready to go out come Monday morning. Afterwards, I'll get right to work on chapter two.

Alright, I will holler at y'all tomorrow.

May 11, 2006
Earlier I went outside with my neighbor. The temperature was in the high 80s to low 90s and there was a nice breeze the entire time that we were out there. It truly was a beautiful day to be outside. I did some light stretching and walked around the yard while we conversed about miscellaneous things. He laid his T-shirt on the concrete slab and stretched out over it so he could soak up some sun, while I ran around shooting hoops for about 30 minutes in order to get a nice sweat going. Afterwards, I too laid down on the concrete and absorbed some of those splendid rays.

We laid in silence for a few minutes before he spoke, "It sure is a pretty day to be outside.”
"Yeah, it is."
"It would be even prettier if I was laying on a boat deck, rather than concrete, with a cooler full of Heineken to my left and my girl to my right. And I'd have the radio tuned to Country Legends," he said with a smile.

"That sounds great," I chimed in. "Except I'd be on a floaty in the water so I could roll into the water whenever I felt like swimming, which would be every ten minutes."

Of course, this exchange ignited some reminiscing from the both of us. We shared anecdotes about times spent out in the Gulf of Mexico and various rivers in Texas, we talked about wild misadventures (like me getting stranded on Crystal Beach during Spring Break of 1995. It's a longggg storyyyy!), and other related summer/water stories. And, of course, I got sunburnt! :-) It was well worth it though.

Today is sheet day. Every Thursday we exchange sheets and pillow cases for clean ones. Any other day of the week it might take the officers working the run 30 minutes to pass out necessities to the 84 cells on a pod, but on sheet day it typically takes them about an hour. They are presently in the next section headed our way. I predict that they'll be over here within 5 minutes. After I get my clean sheets, I'm going to read for the rest of the night. All that reminiscing today has me all hyped up. I need to wind down and what better way than with a good book? See y'all tomorrow!

May 12, 2006
Everything is in order for the preface and chapter one in my autobiography. I just need to check a couple of my sources from the library. I ordered the books that I need and they should be here anytime now. They pass out books on Fridays after shift change (2nd shift). As soon as they bring me those books, I will begin typing out the preface and chapter one and it should be ready to go out Monday morning. As far as when it'll be posted on my site, well, I can't make that prediction because I have no idea. If you put a gun to my head I would guess that it would be on my site by the end of the month, but don't quote me on that, it's not in my control.

Once before, I mentioned that I clean my cell Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Let me describe exactly what that entails. The first thing I do is dust off my mattress and lean it up against the back wall on my bunk. Next, I dust off the bunk and pick everything up off of my floor (I keep old magazines up against the wall and the bunk, my typewriter, cleaning supplies, personal and shower shoes, and my hot pot on the floor) and put it onto the bunk. I then take my towel (this is after I shower) and sweep my floor with it several times, making sure to get every bit of dust off the floor and into the toilet. I don't sweep it under the door because it'll just blow back into the cell when there's traffic out there. After the floor is swept, I take my cell towel (a small piece of cloth that they pass out on Tuesdays) and soap it down with shampoo, then I wash the entire concrete floor. After I pick up the soapy water, I turn my fan on so it'll dry faster. Then I rinse the cell out and sprinkle some bippy on it (the cleaning solutions they pass out on Sundays) and clean the toilet and stainless steel wall that it is attached to. After that's done, I move everything off of the bunk back to its proper location. Oh yeah, I scrub the table with bippy after I hit the stainless steel with it. And that’s about it. It usually takes about 20 minutes to do all of that, depending on how fast I work.

Alright, the officer with the library books is here so I'll wrap this up. I've got at least 4 hours of work in me tonight. I'd better get to it.

May 13–14, 2006
I was super busy all day Saturday. Sometime past 7am, I stumbled out of bed and began working on my autobiography. I worked on it all day, only breaking to shower and eat. I finished the preface and chapter one about an hour after shift change, then I listened to the Dallas vs San Antonio game, which was an AWESOME basketball game!! If all the NBA games were officiated like this one, and played with the level of intensity that this one was, then I'd keep up with the NBA on a regular basis. Unfortunately, the refs play favorites more often than not, and the players tend to take games off during the regular season. It just bugs the hell out of me when a 90% free throw shooter misses the entire rim on two foul shots! You can't tell me dudes like that didn't smoke a bomb before the game! Anyhow, after the game, I wanted to write a letter because I'm way behind, but I found myself standing at my door talking to my neighbor. It was late anyway (past 11pm), so I decided to wait until today to write some letters. I doubt I'll be able to catch up today, but I'll make up whatever I don't get to tomorrow.

Alright, I'd better get to work. I'll holler at y'all tomorrow.

One day at a time,
Simple Man