By Robert Pruett  999411,  aka Simple Man
Week 16 2006

April 17, 2006
According to the new recreation policy, each section has a designated off day when it doesn't recreate; all sections are off on Sundays. My section was off today (Monday) and I crashed out last night thinking that they'd be around bright and early this morning with the showers, which is how they've been doing it under this new policy. When I woke up and noticed my shower stuff by the door, I was confused and slightly alarmed. I knew that I didn't VR my shower, and I do not accept them VRing me of their own volition. Immediately I tapped on my desk to get my neighbor's attention and asked him if he'd been to shower, to which he replied that they hadn't ran any showers on this section yet. Good to know.

I HAVE AN ANNOUNCEMENT: I'm having a personal website constructed. The primary purpose of this site is to get my life story circulating on the internet. My hope is that my message will reach at risk teens and make them think about their behavior and the effects that it has not only on their lives, but on everyone else’s as well. When I first arrived on the row in 2002 I'd planned on writing an autobiography, and I have written the outline and pieces of the text, but I now think that it would be wise to post these stories on the internet first, then maybe work on getting it published in the future. My understanding is that kids these days spend most of their time on the internet, so they're more likely to read my story online than in the form of a book, right? And if one person reads my story and learns from my innumerable mistakes, then my life will not be entirely devoid of meaning.

In addition to this, I will be posting my Uncensored journal in chronological order on my site. Since I'm posting my life story on my own site, I won't be inundating Uncensored with all of these stories in my journal. I might include excerpts occasionally, but I promise not to overwhelm you with them! :-) If you're interested in my biography, then you can visit my site. Be aware that it will take a considerable amount of time to fill in all of the blanks, just know that I'm diligently at work.

April 18, 2006   
Today is a sad one for me. It's my niece's 18th birthday and nobody in my family knows where her and her siblings are. In the early 1990s they were taken by the Children's Protective Services during a drug raid at my cousin's motel in Aransas Pass, Texas. My sister and their father had cocaine in their room and they went to Jail, while the kids went to foster care. We used to visit them in Goliad, and later in Beevile, at their foster parent's house, but my family lost touch with them after I was arrested in 1995. The last I heard they were adopted out in 1996 and their case was closed. What bugs me is that no one in my family, including their parents, seem concerned about their whereabouts.

Don't get me wrong, I think they were better off being raised by more responsible people. Had they been forced to grow up in our dysfunctional family who knows what would've become of them. I just hope that they were able to take advantage of their improved living conditions and have normal childhoods. They certainly wouldn't have had that with my family.

So yeah, today's Samantha's 18th birthday and she has been on my mind since I crawled out of bed. The last time I seen her she was about 6 years old, so it's difficult for me to imagine that she's 18 today!! I wonder how her and her siblings are? Will today be a memorable one for her? Is she even still with her siblings? Does she ever think about her real family? Does she remember me? I wish I could talk to her. I'd tell her about the night she was born when I had a blinding headache and fell asleep in the car at the hospital. I'd tell her about the moment of utter joy I experienced when I first held her and thought, "Wow, I’m your uncle Robert!"

April 19, 2006    
Do you remember what it was like waking up on Christmas morning as a kid to presents under the Christmas tree with your name on them? Think back for a second and try to recapture that ecstatic moment when you hurriedly unwrapped your presents and  found the one you were looking for. At that moment you just KNEW that there was a Santa and that he came through for you, right? Well, that's kinda how we all felt today when they let us make commissary for the first time in a month! :-) I was in the dayroom when they rolled the carts onto the pod and I could  clearly see the joy on everyone's face  as the commissary workers unloaded the carts in front of their cells! I told one guy to stop drooling, that it was only commissary! Haha. It does feel good to have some groceries in the locker. Yesterday they brought us some nasty looking stew with very little substance to it. I took one look at it and knew that it would be a long night. Everything is cool now though, it's all about that jack mack tonight! 

I think I mentioned before that they are supposed to pass out our hygiene (5 state bars of soap, a razor, and some cleaning bippy) on Sundays. Well, after the lockdown we were told that they'd start passing that stuff out on Tuesdays. We didn't get any of that last night. I was talking to my neighbor about the way they treat us sometimes and he said that they do it because they can. I tend to think that they do it because we let them. The  way I look at it is this: we gotta pick our battles. Some things are really worth fighting for, other things not so much. I've got soap and bippy so I'm not going to lose my level behind hat. And if they don't give me a razor I won't shave. Makes no difference to me. But if they cross the line and destroy personal property or something to that effect, well, I have my own way of dealing with that. After my last fall out with these people I made it clear that I'd live in peace as long as they let me. To be as succinct as possible; they don’t fuck with me, I won't fuck with them. And I don't really sweat the small shit. They know what I mean, that's all that counts.

Ugh! I don't mean to sound so aggressive and confrontational tonight. I'm rarely like that these days and I don't foresee that changing. There's no need to be. Although it is disconcerting to see 10 day old postmarks on letters sent from within the state! I'm being patient though because I know they are breaking in a new supervisor in the mailroom.

Funny story: I keep my mattress flat up against the back wall most of the day so I don't lie down on it like a lazy MFer! :-) Sometimes I get silly in here and start singing and playing a little air guitar while listening to a song. When I'm doing this I close my eyes and am completely oblivious to the outside world. An hour or so ago I was standing on my bunk jamming out to Nirvana's “Smells like Teen Spirit" and I cranked up the air guitar and started singing away! I remember standing on one leg and grabbing my right calf with my left hand - as if I was holding the neck of a guitar - and I strummed my right hip to the song! Heck, I must've been doing that most of the song. When I opened my eyes the officers working the run were both looking in my cell and I smiled and said, "Enjoying the show?!" They both smiled and asked if I'd like to see the psych people! Haha. I do get carried away at times. Alright, I'm about to stuff my face with some fish, I'll talk to you all tomorrow. There's really only one way.

April 20, 2006     
Every weekday (non-holiday) around 6pm there's a noticeable change in the ambience of any given pod in the system, especially on death row. No matter how difficult the day was for the guys, seeing the second shift arrive induces a hope that supercedes almost anything that might've went wrong during the day. For second shift passes out the mail.

Despite the fact that the anxiety and anticipation emanating from each cell around this time is so palpable that you could almost cut it with a knife, our behavior while waiting on mail call is nothing short of comical. A lot of times my neighbor and I will conveniently come to the door just past 6pm and begin a conversation about anything from politics to science. While we're delving into a discursive dialogue with our mouths, our eyes are on the picket officer as she/he sorts out our mail and prepares it to be passed out. And no matter what, neither one of us speaks about the mail; we wouldn't want to jinx ourselves! :-) Everyone has their own way of preoccupying themselves until the mail is actually passed out, but it's safe to say that most of us aren't completely focused on whatever that may be. I used to be really bad. I'd put the headphones on, crank up the tunes, turn my light off, and pace the cell until I knew they were on the way to pass out the mail. As soon as I'd hear them coming our way, I'd turn the light on and pretend to be cleaning my toilet, which is close to the door, so that I could peripherally see them pass my cell. I'd do this because in the past I have stood at my door like a dope fiend waiting on the mail and looked stupid as hell when  they flew past my house! That always made me feel like a total loser, so I adopted the pretending-to-be-cleaning trick and it helped me not look so pathetic if the officer with the mail passed me by. Of course when I would get mail I'd play my part to the T and pretend to be nonchalant when the officer would knock on my door and say, "Pruett; number?" I know, I'm such a dork! But I don't worry about it so much these days. It'll drive you crazy if you do, especially considering how slow things have been of late.

Anyhow, to further illustrate how big of a deal mail is around these parts, if one listens closely as the officer passing the mail out walks through his section he'll hear a variety of emotions. One guy might victoriously yell, "Already!!" as he's handed a much welcomed missive, another guy might let out a loud sigh as he's mercilessly passed by, and someone else might even verbally express his displeasure by saying something like, " Lazy ass mailroom! They need to fire all of them motherfuckers and put someone else in there who wants to do some fucking work! Shit!!" when he, too, is passed by. I seriously doubt that anyone is ambivalent after mail call.

They said on the radio that today is the day Layne Staley, the late front man for Alice in Chains, overdosed and died. They said the year, but I missed it. This is also the day that those kids killed students and teachers and themselves at Columbine in Colorado. Also, today is one of my old friend's birthday. I'm not sure what happened to her though? If you're reading this Toni-Marie, Happy Birthday. Lastly, today's Hitler's birthday. What a day, huh?! :-) Oh yeah, 4-20 has significance for an entirely different reason. Something to do with tolerance and freedom to inhale, whatever that means!?! :-)  Happy 4-20 everybody!!

April 21, 2006   
My plans for maintaining an exercise regimen after the lockdown have, to this point, gone awry. I've worked out a few times since they lifted the lockdown, and I've been outside to run a couple of times, but I haven't been doing calisthenics every rec period like I'd planned. Something always interferes with my work out; somebody will ask me a question and an extensive conversation will ensue, an aspiring chess player will seek to improve his game by testing it against my own, or I'll get sucked into sports talk and before I know it my rec time is up! These are a few of my lame excuses! :-) Truth be told, I've become one lazy dude over the years in segregation. I need to snap out of it, too. As long as I spend 45-60 minutes of each rec working out, then I won't feel so guilty about eating like a pig. And, of course, regular exercise stimulates the creative neurons in the brain, causing their synapses to fire rapidly, so it's important that I get into gear. If you think these entries are boring now, imagine what they'd be like if I stopped exercising entirely! Yikes! :-)

Our section went outside today and I enjoyed the warm sun and some stimulating conversation with my neighbor. As we conversed about depraved lawyers and judges, and the differences between life in GP and death row on Ellis unit, where DR used to be housed prior to coming to Polunsky, I observed nature at its finest: a tiny spider weaving a web on the bars separating the two outside rec cages. I'm always astounded by the complexity of nature on every level. How do spiders know how to do that? And who taught ants to build mounds with elaborately designed tunnels? The same questions can be asked of birds, beavers, and every other life form known. According to sociobiologist E.O Wilson, the behavior of insects is entirely instinctual, as is most of the species in the animal kingdom. They're genetically wired to do what they do. (I'm tempted to digress in a major way by exploring the plethora of evidence that supports a physiological basis for human behavior, but I don't want to stray too far from the spider, the point of this paragraph.) The spider that held my attention this afternoon seemed to sense my presence, pausing every few seconds as if to make sure I hadn't moved any closer, yet it cautiously continued doing its work. It dawned on me that I was witnessing a hunter prepare a trap for a kill. This recognition reminded me of a universal truth: all things die, and from death springs life. Caterpillars give way to butterflies, tadpoles to frogs, and even old ways of thinking to new ways as we mature. The life cycle is awesomely unremitting, with life giving way to death and death life. This reminds me of a marvelous Hindu legend: Shiva, the god personifying Brahman in a variety of forms, had a world-goddess called Parvati. A great demon had just overthrown the ruling gods of the world and came to confront Shiva with a non-negotiable demand;  that he should hand over Parvati. Shiva replied by opening his mystic third eye in the middle of his forehead and a bolt of lightning hit the earth creating another demon, even larger than the first, to eat the other demon. The first demon threw himself upon Shiva's mercy.
It's a well-known theological rule that when you throw yourself on a god's mercy that god cannot refuse to protect you. So Shiva protected the demon and left the other one without a meal to quell his hunger, and in anguish he asked Shiva, “Whom do I eat?" to which the god replied, “Well, let's see: why not eat yourself?”
So the demon began eating himself, commencing with his feet, legs, arms, belly, and neck until all that remained was his face. And Shiva was enchanted. For here at last was a perfect image of the monstrous thing that is life, which lives on itself. And to that sunlike mask, which was now all that was left of the demon, Shiva said, exulting, “I shall call you 'Face of Glory,' Kirttimukha, and you shall shine above the doors to all my temples. No one who refuses to honor and worship you will come ever to  knowledge of me.”  (Skanda Purana, VolII, Vishnukanda Karttikamasa  Mahatmya)
The lesson of the story is to recognize the monstrous nature of life. In the words of Joseph Campbell, “the realization that this is just how it is and that it cannot and will not be changed. Those who think - and their name is legion - that they know how the universe could have been better than it is, how it would have been had they created it, without pain, without sorrow, without time, without life, are unfit for illumination....All societies are evil, sorrowful, inequitable; and so they will always be. So if you really want to help this world, what you will have to teach is how to live in it.”
April 22, 2006
Last night they came around with a barber and did haircuts. I've been in TDCJ for almost 10 years now and in that time I can count on one hand the number of decent haircuts I have had. They rarely allow a barber to cut inmate's hair if he's any good. The ones who are experienced and know what they're doing get reassigned to the officer's barber shop. Anyhow, last night they marched a new guy in here to cut our hair and he was good! The job he did on my head has to be one of the best since I was arrested in 1995. I just hope they leave this guy back here for a few months. I know, wishful thinking.

I missed rec today. I stayed up late last night listening to the radio and when I went to sleep I knew I wouldn't get up for rec first round. When I did wake up I read the newspaper and wrote some letters before they came around with the showers around noon. I spent the rest of the day writing letters and tinkering with the outline to my autobiography. I'm excited -about resuming my work on it but I admit that it'll be a real challenge. I think I'm up for it though.
April 23, 2006
I think Sunday  is now my favorite day of the week. After lunch they turn the dayroom and run lights off because there's no rec and it gets peacefully quiet. I usually get a lot of stuff done when it's like this. Today I wrote letters and worked on my outline (autobiography) some more. A couple of years ago I had created an outline, but I've been making substantial changes to it of late. I'm hoping to get started on rewriting chapter one this week. My plan is to post each chapter on my personal website as I finish it. If I work on it daily, which is the plan, then I think I'll be finished by September, possibly sooner. Anyhow,  like most Sundays, today has been uneventful. Everyone seems to be off into their own worlds. I'm hoping that they'll play some old "Alice in Chains" on the Hard Show tonight in commemoration to their late front man, Layne Staley. The anniversary of his death was Thursday the 20th, as I mentioned previously. Growing up I was a huge fan of their band, and I even liked the solo stuff their guitarist. Jerry Cantrell, did after Layne died. Wendy Miller, the hostess of the Hard Show, will probably play 4 or 5 of their older songs, she's pretty good about stuff like that. We'll see what happens in a few hours.
Unlike the vast majority of the guys here on the row, I don't listen to the Shout Out Show. There are a few reasons for this, number one being that it bothers me when people try to force their beliefs on others. I've asked people to call in for me in the past, and I've sat through large portions of that show, but that's just not something I want to do on a regular basis. People telling me that I need to convert to their religion or I'll burn in hell for all eternity just doesn't sit well with me! :-) I've read the bible many times and I certainly perceive some truth in it, but like every other religion it's a penultimate truth because, in my opinion, the ultimate is ineffable. The Christian symbols point in the same direction as the other religions, but I don't believe they're meant to be interpreted literally, as many people do. As does everyone who participates in that Shout Out Show. Actually, I don't mind people believing in whatever they want, it just becomes a problem when they unrelentingly try to recruit me. So that's the main reason why I don't listen to that show. That said, I realize that it provides people a wonderful opportunity to reach out to their friends and family here on Polunsky. For that reason I think the show serves a noble purpose. Most of the guys around here love it and even live for it.........While they're listening to it, I read, write, and jam out on the radio, sometimes a little air guitar! :-)
One Day at a Time,
Simple Man