Prison 101:16

STOP! This material is NOT edited for content. It is not fiction. It contains explicit language and descriptions of real situations. It is not suitable for minors, and may not be suitable for people who easily disturbed…

One time the four of us who worked in the carpentry shop were waiting for our C.O. To pick us up. It was after lunch, the mess hall workers were stripping floors so we had to sit on this bench on the other side of the steel gates that lead into the mess hall waiting for him.

So we’re sitting there talking with each other about dumb stuff, we’re in prison, there isn’t a lot to talk about. I don’t remember who stopped talking first, one of us did, so we all looked to see why, and of course that means looking down the long hall to see what there is to see because if there is anything to see, like a fight, or something, it will be coming from that way. I look up and I see this woman walking down the hallway: Built, and putting a lot into her walk. We all stopped talking and stared. One guy even said some dumb shit like, “Wow, she’s hot.” Then we all sort of remember at the same time that we’re in prison and she is wearing greens just like us, therefore she is really he. We all sort of choked at the same time. The guy just smiled and winked, he liked that he was noticed. It was fucked up for real.

Another time I went into the shower. The shower in prison is a no talking zone for men. Sex goes on there, alcohol, drugs get smoked, shot up or whatever. They like the constant steam and the vents that draw it outside. No alcohol fumes, pot smoke smell, etc.. We shower in our underwear, boxer shorts. You wear boxers, if you don’t it means you are putting your shit on display by wearing tighty whities, the name for briefs. Some men have special shower boxers they have made, one pair inside another pair so that even when they are wet they can’t be seen through. If a man is showering naked he is either new and doesn’t know the rules, or he is fishing. Either way he is going to get stepped to and told there is no nude showering. The only time there is a change in that is when you have a significant percentage of men who want to, for whatever reason, shower nude. Then they will set an hour aside for nude showering. They all have to shower in that hour. No one else goes in during that time.

You don’t stare at anything you might see and you don’t talk unless you are in there with someone you know really well, even then it might be misconstrued by someone else. So you go in, ignore everything as best you can, and leave. I was kind of new, I knew the rules, but I hadn’t had a lot happen yet so I was green. Anyway, this guy’s back is to me, that’s cool, but then he turns around and he is surgically altered, he has breasts. I got used to that after a while, but the first few times were hard to handle.

I used to workout with this really big dude who had a saying, ‘Defense Mode On’. The first time he said it we were walking back from the weight shack and he said it out loud. It made me look up, and when I did here come these two asshole gang-bangers that I had seen around the prison and knew were trouble. What it meant was he had beef with them, so it was his way of saying, I’m going to try to hold it together and it might work or it might not, but with him it almost always worked when he just said those words. I adopted it. I thought it had value. To me it means I can do this if I have to, but I don’t have to: Defense Mode On.

Now I see the value in fitting into society. It doesn’t mean I have to agree with a lot of what society is, but I value rules, organization. I spent over 10 years in prison, it was enough. I can and do play by the rules.

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Societal Pressures

Posted by Ami Adams

Good morning. I am going with morning because technically, here in New York, it still is.

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The following blog stems from a conversation I had the other day with friends concerning control, our situations, and how were see ourselves and the things in our lives that we feel are out of or in our control either one. Dieting, relationships, all of it. We were mainly discussing dieting and it just branched out into other areas of our lives. As writers we tend to spend a great deal of time sitting on our duffs… Well, Writing. It’s kind of hard to put exercise in there throughout the day. Write a chapter, exercise, write a chapter, exercise. It just doesn’t work that way. It is more like: Write like a crazy man (or woman) while the material is there. Sit there all day and eat there too if you can get away with it. My top three friends are full time writers as I am and so they can and do get away with that the same as I do.

The bad part of that is obvious. No exercise, bad eating habits. Too much other stuff to even list. It’s just plain unhealthy. So we discussed what we do to make sure we stay healthy. To change things up so that exercise has a place in our daily schedules. I will keep this blog on my own life, solutions, things I have done to make me healthier.

We stuck as closely as we could to dieting, because all of us in the discussion, male and female alike, seem to have reason to struggle with that and believe that the answers to feeling good about diet and the results we obtain from it are not totally in our control. It was a good conversation.

I have been overweight and dealt with the results of that as it acted upon my body. There were times when I did not believe I had the control to do anything about it at all, and then a time where I realized I did have control, could direct a path that would lead me away from that situation. I followed it and it worked. It also confirmed to me that we have much more control of our lives than we think we do. We simply allow situations or even people to take that control away from us, or we give that control to the person or situation without even thinking about the fact we are doing that.

I have found that the best way to begin to put control back into the things you do is to just do it. I know that sounds like I am making a joke of it, making it sound easy to do, but I am not. What I am saying is that it is often our own fault that we don’t make changes and allow the circumstances we are in to become our prison, and to hold and control us.

I think the first thing to do is determine exactly what the problem is. Sometimes it isn’t so straight forward as it seems. You might say … “Well, I want to lose weight.” That’s it. Nothing more, but that is not really the problem itself, it is more like a solution to some other problem. Some other underlying thing that has you upset or depressed enough to start looking for solutions that may or may not solve the problem.

There are reasons to lose weight. Reasons that are serious and shouldn’t be ignored. As a nation we are overweight, we all know that, read or hear about it almost daily in social and news media. Heart Disease, Diabetes and a host of other medical problems are waiting to kick the crap out of our bodies if we don’t get them into shape. And if the reason you are going to lose weight is right there then you need to start reinforcing it in your head. You need to remind yourself daily that being overweight could kill you. Take you away from those that you love. That should be a strong motivator, but it isn’t always. And it isn’t always because very often the reasons behind wanting to lose weight have nothing at all to do with needing to lose weight.

Where does it come from: Weight gain is genetic to a degree, and evolutionary and biological on the other side. Social pressure also comes into play.

Genetics: Sometimes, for some people, there is a gap between what they eat; someone else eats, and how that weight ends up on their body and doesn’t seem to on the other person. But maybe that simply isn’t true. In other words, for men and women, self worth is tied up in the way we view ourselves. Maybe to you I don’t look bad at all, but to me I’m a mess. Too heavy. Unattractive, the list begins and goes from there.

The problem is that all of those pronouncements we make on ourselves and our bodies gets tied up in the judgments we are making about ourselves, our self worth. It isn’t necessarily true at all. It may be you could weigh yourself and that other person, who seems to be having an easier time than you are, and find there is no difference, maybe you would find there is. Whatever you do find, there are ways to deal with it. For some genetics may play a role. For some it is a simple matter of firing up their metabolism, eating less, being more active, but the fact that we tie it all up with our self worth makes it nearly impossible to get to the truth of it.

Evolution: I will say first that I am a christian, I am not knocking God or anything else, and I realize that evolution doesn’t exist for some people. Something some scientific types made up. So possibly you may want to take a different view of it. Let’s call it pre-history. When you read the old testament you read about people living in caves. Being nomadic. They certainly didn’t have a 7 11 down the road or a supermarket. We lived a different kind of life. And because of that our bodies developed the ability to store fat for long periods of time and then release it when we needed it. That worked pretty well. There were no super models or social pressures working at us to be skinny. I can not imagine a Cave Woman getting up and saying … “Damn, Trog! Does my butt look too big?” I’m sure she could have cared less and I’m sure Trog could have cared less. So we have this evolutionary thing. We store fat because our bodies think we may need it. Maybe in a few thousand years, if the human race lasts that long, we will breed that right out of ourselves. Of course if we did and then some worldwide catastrophe occurred we would be done for. So maybe we won’t lose that ability. Either way it is there. It’s a biological fact, and we have to acknowledge it as such.

Social: This is where it gets tricky. Are you fat? Or is someone making you feel like you are fat? Good question. Sometimes people make us feel that way because they want to put us in a perfect little mold that they created for us. It has nothing at all to do with us, it has to do with their own unhappiness. Unfortunately for us that makes little difference. It hurts us and we react by saying we will get with the program and make ourselves into that person that this other person wants us to be. Never mind what we think. That isn’t important. Look at TV, the internet. Look at all the skinny women and muscled men! That must be the way it is supposed to be.

Bull. It is something we tell ourselves and we even get to a place where we believe it is our own idea to look a certain way, and completely forget we are being manipulated by society or even our own loved ones. You are the only one that can look at this critically and make a decision about what you are doing or why. I would just say be honest with yourselves.

The problem with this societal pressure is that it gets completely tied up with our self worth, and that is also evolutionary. I suppose that the first person with blue eyes must have been looked at strangely. Or blonde hair. But if you turn on your television and look at a movie from the seventies, or sixties you will see women that had little bellies. What? My God! How could they! And the men were not all cut up and heavily muscled either. That is what society was given as the model for man and woman. And that was that. Now you have Super Models who have about a 4 percent body fat content and therefore no belly, no hips, no large butt, and they look great in those designer jeans, and pretty soon the youth of society decides that is the look right there.

And that’s great when you are 15 or 19 or even into your very early 20’s but there comes a time where your body changes and in order to keep that look you will either have to become a gym rat or slip into some bad stuff to maintain that look. Bulimia, Anorexia, drug use, or maybe you will just sink into a deep depression and stay there. To Hell with the world I can’t be what they want so I quit.

And of course that is the problem. The real problem. Are you fat? Or are you trying to be what you think societies idea of what you should be is?

Losing weight: The fact is that if you eat less calories than what you burn you will lose weight. If you do some sort of exercise every day that will burn calories. Those two things are absolutes and do not change or bend to social pressure. So make sure you are doing this for the right reasons and then go from there. Set up a daily exercise routine. It doesn’t have to be complicated, or long, it only needs to be something you do on a daily basis. I would aim for a half hour at first just to get you started. What that will do is two things. First it will kick start your metabolism. That is a big deal because that will determine what your body needs for calories, and you want that number to be high. The second thing this will do is what all physical exercise does, release endorphins.

Endorphins are designed to make you feel good. It is your bodies own little reward for doing well. It can help your mental attitude, change your physiology and help you to start to look at things differently. I have done this myself and it makes a huge difference in the first few weeks. It doesn’t immediately kick the weight loss into gear, but that does come along on its own.

Be Reasonable: Come back to self worth. How much is for you and how much is for that guy or girl that is unhappy with the way you are? Or is it just some unreasonable idea you have built in your mind and come to believe that you must attain? In my experience it is some of each. There is social pressure and even pressure from your significant other or even friends that are close to you. Society, or our own wishes sometime put us in these boxes and it is tough to get out of that. So be reasonable and have an honest conversation with yourself. Am I doing this because I want to? Or because I need to? Or am I pretty much happy with myself and others are making me feel as though I need to do this? Are you beautiful? When you think of yourself is that what you think or do you think you are ugly? You might be surprised at the answer, and not just women, but also men. We have our own warped view of what we are and how we stack up too.

I had a straight forward conversation with myself many years ago. This is what I decided:

One: I am not the greatest looking person in the world but I’m not the worst. There is nothing I can do that will be lasting to attract someone to me. Sure, I can change the way I dress, adjust my work schedule, smile more, yes, and even lose weight, become someone I am uncomfortable with and maybe that will attract more people to me. But I can not sustain it, so I should not entertain it because it will put too much pressure on me. Besides, do I really want to be with someone that is strictly interested in looks? Do I want to play that game? Share my life with someone I am really not compatible with at all? No.

Two: What do I really want? What is it that will make me happy in a partner? Should they be involved in the same social things I am involved in? Church? Bowling? Macrame? Writing? Yes. Incompatibility is something that I also can not sustain. It doesn’t mean we have to match in every area, but we should have enough interests in common so that we can compromise on the things that remain.

Three: Do I need a partner? Do I need someone that tells me how I should look? Act? What I should wear? What I should feel? How much I should weigh? And maybe they don’t say these things with their words, maybe they only say them with their actions. I decided no. I don’t need that. I need someone that supports and encourages me.

Four: What does this have to do with losing weight? Dieting? … Everything. It comes right back to self worth. And maybe you are putting these pressures on yourself. Maybe your partner/friends are happy with you the way you are. Maybe it is you that has an unhealthy image of what you should be. But I would bet that image was begun and fostered by the way men and women in your life treated you and the supposed societal norms you saw on TV.

That brings me full circle. Self worth. Love yourself and who you are. Those aren’t just words. If you can do that it really doesn’t matter what anyone else has to say about it at all. You can allow that negativity to skip right over your head. It becomes meaningless. You cause it to lose its power, and that means you have that power now. So sit down and have that conversation with yourself. Take it from there.

From There: Set aside that time every day that you need for you. Maybe it is first thing in the morning, maybe last thing at night. I chose first thing in the morning because as a writer the day may take me anywhere. The first part of the morning is still somewhat under my control. I get up and I have an hour set aside for me. Half of that is Oh My God I need some Coffee, and the Other half is Okay, I’m awake let’s get some exercise in.

That amounts to whatever I want it to amount to. There was a time where I did intense workouts every day, twice a day, and I am heading back toward that. But for the last few years I have set an easier pace

There is no one in my life so I do what I do for me, and I would suggest that is the best approach. I would suggest that because people can let you down. Sometimes purposely, sometimes not, but a let down is a let down, and if you have your self worth and getting better tied up in another person that is a bad idea. Tie it up in you, YOU be responsible for you and what you want. Set goals. Be realistic, but do it for you.

For me I set that hour aside. Today it might be an hour of cardio, tomorrow it might be a walk. Both are good, both are beneficial to you and sufficient. A start of taking a walk every morning until you can do more is fine. It helps to fire up that metabolism, it burns calories, and it is very beneficial to your health, both physical and mental.

If you have children it may be tough to get time, but if you have someone in your life that is a true partner and helper for you, you should be able to ask for that time and get it. After all, parenthood is no longer just a woman’s job.

If you can not get the time that way, take it later at night. That might seem counter productive, spending even more time running around, but exercise rids your body of many toxins, releases endorphins as we discussed, so it will have its benefits for you.

I guess that is it for my point of view. Start somewhere. Eat right. Take at look at your reasons and then sit down and have that honest talk with yourself. I think you can attain your goals if you truly want them. But better yet, I think you can maintain them if you have put the work into you and know your true motivations…

What else is going on here? The Earth’s Survivors series is now available on Kindle, and the writing schedule is narrowing down to the next projects.

The next projects: That is a good question. Instead of doing things the way they have been done here at i for the last few years, we have decided to react to sales and demand rather than go with what has been voted on by staff and is therefore next in line. Whatever that will be it will not be voted on by staff, but will be from suggestions from readers and users of i.

Whatever that turns out to be I will be the writer, Geo will be focusing on his own projects. It seems like a much more logical approach. What remains on my burner right now is Hurricane. That book is very close to finished now, and will be finished up coming into fall. The winter schedule is now open for me. The only other thing I see being published in the interim might be the original Earth’s Survivors book. That is the first book written thirty years ago that started the series. It bears little on the series published now, but it is still a good book in its own right.

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That’s it for today. I hope today finds you well and I will return next week, Ami…

Do our cats eat better than we do?

Have you ever been on your way to the kitchen to make a peanut butter sandwich, with jelly of course, at 1:30 A.M. and of course you just get the bread out and the noise of the plastic wrapper alerts the cats, and they are on you like… Well, cats on people with food.

So, you managed to get the bread out of the bag, whole wheat, if you are going to eat P&J at 1:30 A.M. you need to be health conscious: So, you leave the bread on a napkin on the counter, if you have ever been married you know this is not like the bad old days, the single days, you can’t leave crumbs on the counter and hope the dog gets up there and cleans them up before breakfast; because if the wife sees them you are in for it. She buys napkins for a reason, after all. Ask her, she’ll tell you. Screw up and leave crumbs she’ll also tell you.

So, bread on the napkin and off to take care of the cats, because cats are not like dogs. Dogs wait to be fed, cats demand to be fed at any time they choose. If a dog wants breakfast they will wait patiently until you get up and then accept the breakfast, and maybe a few bites of whatever you are eating, that they knew would be coming. A cat, on the other hand will jump up onto your face at 2:00 A.M. and smack the crap out of you until you get up and feed them.

So, bread on the napkin and off to the cat food bag, a handful on each plate because cats cannot stand to eat together, they must have their own plates so that they can then shove the nearest cat out of the way, eat all their food, and then go back to their own plate. Then you have to get the wet food, because a cat will surely kill you dead if you think they are going to simply eat dry food. With a dog you can run a little warm water over the dry food and tell them it is gravy. Don’t try that with a cat.

So, wet food interspersed with the dry food, set down both plates and then go back to the sink to wash the cat food smell off your hands, and on the way you notice that the cat food doesn’t smell as bad as it usually smells. Not fishy, more… Well, tasty smelling. Like it could be something gourmet, like that coffee Jules’s friend Mister Tarantino serves in Pulp Fiction. So, because you are a man you stop and sniff your hands. No, women don’t do this, just men, it is a cave man thing, evolutionary in origin, probably came about because some cave wife yelled at her cave husband for having stinky hands. Most cave men probably did. After all, there was no antibacterial soap back then, in fact Dial had not even been invented, so your hands were going to smell bad on occasion: It only makes sense that a cave wife wouldn’t stand for that too long.

So, you sniff your hand, and Whoa!!! It is some gourmet stuff! It smells really good, like it might make a much better sandwich than that P&J you were about to build; way better. It smells as good as that sandwich you got out a vending machine that time you were drunk and hungry and happened to be at the hospital. That good; of course you can’t really remember how good it was exactly because you were drunk and in the hospital after all, and really the whole night was a blur, but the sandwich, the sandwich stood out, and you’re pretty sure it had nothing to do with your vomiting later on, that was just too much drink, that’s all.

You look from your hands to the bread, then you think… There are a few more cans left… Maybe… But, you are civilized and so you continue on to the sink and wash your hands, even though you don’t even have a wife anymore, and so if you wanted to have stinky hands you could, but no, civilized, and so you wash your hands, make that P&J and spend the next few minutes eating it and hating the cat for having better food that you do…

Has that ever happened to you? … Me either… AA

Prison 101:15

STOP! This material is NOT edited for content. It is not fiction. It contains explicit language and descriptions of real situations. It is not suitable for minors, and may not be suitable for people who easily disturbed…


I was in the mess hall with a work crew one day. I had been working with this crew for a couple of years. The way the movement worked in this prison, the work crews were fed after population, or pop as we called it.

What it amounted to for us, was that we sat for quite a while, while the mess hall emptied out, so our C.O.’s could come and pick us up.  In a Max inmates don’t move unescorted. No officer, you sit and wait. In a medium you go everywhere on your own. Sitting and waiting on your officer in a max mess hall you ended up seeing a lot of the crazy stuff that goes on.  After all you’re stuck there, there isn’t much to do but watch.

While we’re sitting there, I watched this kid keep getting into a beef with an older guy. The older guy would nod his head patiently, and walk away from the kid, but the kid would chase him down, and start the shit all over again. The old guy put up with that for a good fifteen minutes, before he turned to the kid and warned him off.

The four of us on the work crew, sat and wondered what might happen next. But the kid walked away, and the old guy went back to working. I just made up my mind to watch something else to pass my time, when the kid came back from the kitchen and threw a punch at the old guy. The old guy backed up, pulled a pen from his pocket and stabbed the kid in the eye with it. The mess hall was locked down for the next four hours and we were stuck there sitting at a table by ourselves for most of that time.

Another time, a bad one, I was sitting in the mess hall with the Carpentry shop crew. And two men got into an argument. The argument went back and forth several times, the one guy would run his mouth to the other, and the other would say some slick shit back. Eventually the mess hall emptied out and it was just four of us waiting to get picked up.

At that point the mess hall workers come out and mop, pick things up, clean tables, so it isn’t unusual for them to be walking around.

So the one kid comes back carrying an aluminum tray in his hands. He says nothing as he walks up behind the guy. The guy senses him and begins to turn. The kid takes the tray and slams it into his eyes. Blood went everywhere. They had to call in a specially trained Bio Hazzard crew to clean up. The state police showed up. Markers were set by every blood drop and photographed. We sat there through the whole thing.

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Prison 101:14

STOP! This material is NOT edited for content. It is not fiction. It contains explicit language and descriptions of real situations. It is not suitable for minors, and may not be suitable for people who easily disturbed…



In a max you are required to go to Breakfast and Lunch in the mess hall. Dinner is optional. You just stay in your cell or go to the yard recreation instead of the mess hall.

Most men in a max cook on the radiators. They are on about nine months out of the year in this state, and they are so hot you can cook on them. You can also buy a hot pot, and or a stinger in some places. The stinger drops into the food, plug it in and it heats it. You can have cookware, a few pans with lids. Bowls to store or even cook food in. A plastic bowl with a lid can cook on top of a radiator. Put the rice in, the water, the other ingredients. Put the top on it. Wrap it in towels to hold the heat in, leaving the bottom open to sit on the iron radiator top, and leave it for a few hours. My method was to put everything in the bowl, seal it, wrap it, and go to work. Six hours later when work was done I had a bowl of hot, cooked food all ready. Stir it up and eat it. It worked great.

In a medium they have an actual kitchen or cooking area. Microwaves, sometimes even a stove top. Men cook full blown meals there.

I got a Spanish cellmate for a few years. He liked to cook, and I swear he used jalapenos in everything. I mean the guy could not cook without them, so after a while I just got used to it. One time he got some habaneros from the prison garden. They are much hotter than the jalapenos, but he didn’t know, he chopped them up and put them in our food just as if they were jalapenos. Nearly killed us.

I used to hate squid, octopus, spicy food, but I got used to all of it there. Most of the best radiator cooks in prison are Spanish. In the Max I had been in for seven years there were also fireplaces in the yard. A few dozen of them. Guys cook there year around. It was one of the strangest things about that prison, you could buy anything in the yard. There are showers just off the yard, so sex is sold there. The fireplaces are all cooking and selling all kinds of food. And anything you could imagine: Drugs, Alcohol and everything in between is sold right there in the yard. The CO’s know it, but they have their own hustles or are involved in some of what goes down there too, or maybe it is so huge that they look at it like a thing they could never even make a dent in, so everyone pretends they see nothing.

Cash is stamps or unopened packs of cigarettes, or, in some case, Loosies (Those are single cigarettes. Something might cost three Loosies). A very alien place at first, but I got used to it fast. Very often if I did not want to cook or go to chow, I would go to the yard and then buy a hotdog and a Coke and sit somewhere at eat. Sounds like a baseball game, right?

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Prison 101:13

STOP! This material is NOT edited for content. It is not fiction. It contains explicit language and descriptions of real situations. It is not suitable for minors, and may not be suitable for people who easily disturbed…

So prison can be really ultra-violent. I can see why some guys aren’t really worried about it though, because it is like bullies. They pick and choose who they will mess with, and usually they will not mess with guys who have their shit together, or gang members, etc. You see a lot of young men join the extremist Muslim groups that preaches kill all white skinned people and become extremists themselves. You see white boys join white supremacy groups or go the other way and become a Muslim, because the Muslims will protect them from anything that comes their way. I’m talking about Sunni or Shiite Muslims, not the extremists or the 5 percenters.  They probably sat in a cell at some point and told themselves, “Well, I have to go one way or the other,” made the decision and were okay. Once you belong to a gang or religion you’re untouchable without permission.

I did not belong to any gang, but I would say the way I did my time is rare. I took a lot of chances at first by refusing people and affiliations, but I had also already done time several years prior, and so I knew the way things are, and I knew some pretty influential people. I also did not break any prison rules, IE: I did no drugs, alcohol, gambling or messing with homosexuals (They just call them Homos in prison, or if they are an item, the guy will introduce the other guy/girl as his wife). And I was not a gang member. And so that kept me out of ninety-nine percent of the conflicts. The rest I dealt with as it came.


For a year or so I worked doing computer programming for the prison. Hey, if you have talent they use it. They paid me well, and they set me up with a good job in the prison wood shop.

So I’m there a few days and a guy that works there, a very talented artist, gives me some crap all at once. He’s a big guy, kind of weird too, but I don’t know who he is and there is a C.O. right there when he does it so I really don’t know what to do. When he leaves, the C.O. Says “If you let him start that shit he’ll talk any way he wants to you.”

So I say, “No problem, as long as it is not going to piss you off, (because the guy works for him) I’ll put him in his place.” Another inmate there speaks up and says, ”Well, you know he’s a serial killer, right?”

“Ha ha,” I say.

“No, he really is,” the C.O. Says.

Fuck, I think.

Turns out he was a serial killer, he had killed something like thirty people that he had confessed to, and they thought the real number might be much higher.

So later in the day I wait for him to come back. I’m thinking, there is no way I’m letting this guy talk to me that way. I’ll just be cool about it.

He comes in and I say, “Yo. We need to talk.” in my best prison guy voice. So we step outside of the office area, and I say “Listen, I don’t give a fuck how many people you killed, if you ever fuckin’ talk to me like that again I’m gonna kick your fuckin’ ass, got it?” I mean, I went the total tough guy route. And you know what? He started crying. I didn’t know what to say. I just waked away. The C.O., smart ass that he was says, “Oh, you made the serial killer cry.” I was like, what now?

He never spoke to me nasty again, but after that he wanted to be my friend. I mean he would cook on his radiator in the winter, we all did, we would make pretty complicated stuff too, but after that he would always send me food. I was always afraid to eat it though, I mean, some people he killed he might have killed by poison, right? It was weird. I bring the guy up because he had no remorse at all. He did not care that he had killed a bunch of people, nothing. It was a lesson to me, there are some people in the world that will use you, and they will not care. It was where I had been in my addictions, if I were to be honest with myself, and where I was sinking deeper into before I came to prison, I may have never understood a thing about myself if I had kept on that path. I certainly would never have begun to work on myself. It really was kind of freaky, scary too that he attached himself to me after that. I would go the yard maybe once a year, he would find me and hang out with me every time and so people would get a little freaked out by that.

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Prison 101:12

STOP! This material is NOT edited for content. It is not fiction. It contains explicit language and descriptions of real situations. It is not suitable for minors, and may not be suitable for people who easily disturbed…

In prison there was this female C.O. who would not take no for an answer. She ran the block I locked in (Where you lock is where you live) so she would come get me to do all these things back in the storage room, move boxes, etc. I knew it was a matter of time before she pushed the issue harder, so I talked to my day boss, another C.O. And he pulled some strings and got me moved out of that block. Two months later she got caught back in that supply room with an inmate. Dumb.

In prison I did not watch TV. I went to late yard recreation with whatever workout partner I had, Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights, and did hardcore cardio sets.

In the maxes, where I spent 7 years, you have cells and you have your own TV in your cell. Watch what you want when you want, but when I went to the mediums it is usually open sixty man dorms. Think of pole barn for cattle or livestock, only setup with rows of cots and lockers. And an area closed off with a TV. The gangs lock that area down. They have their shit they want to control in prison and TV is one of them. More men get stabbed over TV in the mediums than anything else. I came close a few times and finally decided it was not worth the drama.

There are many ways that drama comes to you. I remember once meeting a guy who had just come from a max to the medium I was in. He gravitated to me. He told me a story about how he had done his time in the maxes. Hard core, he had several bodies, letters on the end of his bid (Letters = life). A young guy I looked out for saw him and came to me and said, … “Hey, that dude is one of the guys that sets up young guys… Turns them.”  I thought, no way, but the kid gave me times, dates and details and then even bought more young guys into it that had dealt with him.

There is a gang of guys in every max that does that. They pray on the young guys that have just come in from the streets. Steal them blind, take all of their stuff and put them to work. It goes further, they also threaten them like this… “The next time that girl comes to see you she has to bring an ounce of coke, or weed, or whatever.” They tell him what day the visit takes place too, because they know the C.O. that will be on and they know they can get the contraband in. If the kid says no, they send a gang member by his house on the street just to let them know what the deal is. That is extreme, but it happens. So this guy was one of the ones in the max this kid had been in that had done this for years, and this kid remembered him. He and some others wanted to kill him for the things he had, had a hand in doing to them.

So I went to the guy and I said, “Look someone said this.” He said it wasn’t true. I said, “Well, they say it is and they want you to know that you would probably be better off in another prison or in P.C. because they’re gonna touch you.” (Fuck him up at least, kill him most likely) He went into PC and then transferred out a week or so later. They were going to do some really bad shit to him, rape him, probably kill him, or at least try to kill him. I understand that. If the man forced them into selling themselves, or threatened their families, I completely understand it. It isn’t a place I would ever allow myself to be in, but I understand their anger over it.

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Prison 101:11

STOP! This material is NOT edited for content. It is not fiction. It contains explicit language and descriptions of real situations. It is not suitable for minors, and may not be suitable for people who easily disturbed…

In prison I understood the drugs. I knew speed had me from the first day I ever tried it. I started at about 11. When I was on the streets I switched to methamphetamine, easier to get even back then. It almost killed me twice, I mean like blood pressure over 220, stroked out, but I could not quit. I finally managed to stop. I watched my son being born and that floored me. I watched my cousin Mike continue on with Cocaine and die in his sleep, massive heart attack at twenty-six. I had another friend I saw check out from that same drug with a heart attack in his early thirties. Bad stuff, all of it, and I cannot tell you why it didn’t get me back then, why it took so long. But because I understood it, I saw the draw. I could see how these guys came to prison with addictions to drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, and how they could be unable to stop those addictions even though they knew it would probably kill them. Too bad it didn’t also convince me to stop drinking, but there was still time left on that train wreck

In prison I was always the guy that had to stand up to the bullies. You would think from watching prison movies that all the guys in prison are bad asses. Nope. Most are bullies that had it made outside of prison, but they can’t run the same game there. That’s because in prison there is always someone who will yank their chain. Out in the world they might intimidate someone, but inside the guy will say, “Let’s go then. Right now.” And then the game is up. Many times I ended up being the guy that had to yank that guy’s chain. I hated it because, although I have skills, I am not superman. My ass can be kicked, and that could have cost me more time, and it could also lead to violence, and violence doesn’t solve violence. But the other part of me, the part that was ashamed of the way I used to be and hated bullies just could not pass it up.

The biggest scam was extortion. A big guy comes along and tells a kid, ‘Look, when you go to commissary next time you are going to pick this list of shit up for me, if you don’t I am going to fuck you up so bad you may not ever make it home.’

The kid could tell a C.O., or drop a slip as we used to say. If he did either, the most that would happen would be that he would get placed into P.C., but P.C. Is not a safe place. It is just as easy for someone to get to someone in P.C. as it is in Pop. Or the C.O. may tell him flat out, ‘Deal with it. I don’t care.’ So really, unless you have a bigger guy you can send to have a conversation with that bully, you better be getting his list of shit when you next go to commissary.

Jesus. I used to watch those kids write those letters. Their family, sister/mom/brother/aunt is barely making it outside and they are asking them for top of the line sneakers and cartons of cigarettes. Wow. I could not believe it, but that is the mentality there. It’s the extreme of what men inside put their families through, not the least of which is writing for cigarettes, boots, sneakers and anything else they think they can talk their grandmother on social security into, so they can pay off those guys that are extorting them. It makes you want to smack the shit out of guys like that.

Smacking the shit out of someone really doesn’t do any more than say I can do that to you and you have to take it. It makes the person worse, not better. So I used to step in, but I policed myself. Stuck to my guns. Never overstepped the boundaries I myself set. There were a few times that I stepped into an extortion that some guy was doing and shut them down. I cannot tell you how many times guys told me someone would kill me eventually, but that’s just another bully tactic. No one ever got me. I walked out the door in one piece, and I was glad I stepped into situations and stopped those situations. It made me feel better about me.

I was tempted to get a tattoo a few times in prison, but I knew two different guys that nearly died from Hep. On top of that I taught and played guitar in prison and those guys would buy my bottom strings to cut up into needles for their home made tat guns (Made from cassette players) I knew how long those guys used those needles, and how clean they were, too long, and not very, so I took a pass even though I saw some really good artists.

I did see guys do tattoo work in prison who were very careful, and other guys that were very sloppy. I saw guys in prison eat from the same bowl as their friends. By that I mean they make food in bowls, rice dishes usually, cooked on top of the radiators, then they get two or three forks and they all eat directly from the bowl together. It used to freak me out because of AIDS and HEP and TB, and I would see guys eat after guys who had those things. It just made no sense to me. So dirty needles for tattoos were not the only thing to be concerned about. Prison is like one huge infectious nightmare. You have to be careful, and tattoos are just one small part of that care.

There was a guy who had ‘Fuck You Cop’ written on his forehead. The C.O.’s hated him, but could do nothing. Every time they had to frisk him they would be staring at ‘Fuck You Cop‘. They gave him a hard time all the time. Rough in prison, and not so good when or if you go home. The guy had life so he didn’t care, and it bought him a certain amount of prison cred with some inmates and a few of the C.O.’s too. In prison lots of guys get their girls face done. Usually not good as they are rarely together long into the bid. And some prison artists are not that good. So they end up with a face that doesn’t look like their girl… Forever too.

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I have spent the past week getting things rolling. I think, like many of you, I believed this would be over quickly and we would be back to whatever sort of new life-mixed with our old life-that remained. As the time goes on I can see that is not going to be the case. It isn’t surprising that we have now been turned on each other. That is politics, get us to fight each other about what it is, when we should be free to go out again, when it will end, and of course when it will really end, and we won’t have time to look at the politics of the whole thing.

No, I am not political, as pathetic as it might sound I just want us to learn to get along. I think the truth is that as long as we have people that hold our strings, we will always be puppets in some way, no matter what we think.

So, what to do? First, be more empathetic, that is my go to tool. I learned a long time ago that I personally am too quick to judge. I always adopted the attitude that if it affected me then I had to argue my side of it, not true, or not complete, because the other side feels as strongly about their position, and in some cases even stronger. I used to dismiss the other side of the coin, the other persons feelings, because I compared it to myself and judged them wrong. Yes, I did that, but we all eventually do see that other side if we allow ourselves to grow and feel, and empathize. Because if the other persons viewpoint is valid to them, then it is a real position. It matters. It doesn’t matter that you or I might not be able to see it, it only matters that that person can see and feel it and it is real to them.

How is that helpful to me? Clearly it makes me care about someone other than myself, and it is something I can do without endangering myself, my family, my friends, it is bending enough to see a different viewpoint, and being mature enough to accept it as a fact. And, that is important. Because there are things we do that we think means we are changing, bending, evolving, that can be dangerous: We can lose ourselves, in trying to pacify someone else, trying to bend to someone elses will: That is not empathy. That can damage us, it can hurt people around us, and it can even change the course of our life in a negative way. Empathy is understanding. It is taking the time to validate someone elses feeling, ideas, even lifestyle, even if you do not understand it completely or embrace it yourself. It is being mature enough to say other people and what they feel is as important as you and what you feel.

Does it mean you should change your life to accommodate them? No, it doesn’t. It does mean that you can begin to understand that there is a world of different out there.

No two people are the same under the surface, and the differences they embrace are valid for them even if they are not for you. I have people in my life that think differently about things than I do. I mean, people who are Republicans, or Democrats, or Atheists, or Jews, Or Buddhists or Gay or Straight, or Nurses, OR Aids patients, or Ministers, or on and on. I don’t worry about it. Sincerely, I don’t spend my time wondering what atheist friend thinks about my beliefs. Or whether because I have friends that are gay I’m gay too. I don’t because it is not part of our relationship. They find out quickly that I am exactly who I am and I find the same thing about them. In other words, there are no masks, no pretense that I care about all the things they do. That I am friends with them to look good, or they with me. It takes time to build that sort of relationship. It also takes strength of character, because you are not bending to their will, or trying to bend them to your will, you are just being you, and it starts with empathy. Realizing that others feelings are as valid as yours are.

So I watch all the stuff going on and then I continue my life. I care about the circle I have, I can’t do more than that. If I try I could lose my own way. And, I’m not an idiot, I can read between the lines. I can see things are taking longer, I saw that they would before this whole thing started. You can’t shut down the worlds economy and then just jump-start it back to life when you feel like it. It is going to take time, patience, understanding and yes, even empathy for how others feelings matter.

I have friends who depend on close contact for their livings and they are suffering, I mean that. I see days tick by, and I know it hurts them, but the fact is it is going to take as long as it is going to take. It would be best if all of us could get together and work out a plan of how to put our lives back on track, but we can’t. We can see that by watching the news. The two main political parties can’t even agree, so how are we supposed to agree?

We can practice empathy. Yes, it sounds like crap, but it isn’t, because empathy means understanding, not bending to accept someone elses viewpoint. It means that if you can do that you will be less upset. Not let all of this break you down. Because people who like to influence others depend on that. They believe if they continue to stir the pot you will get sick of all that crap they are distributing and cave in. Empathy means you can understand it, but you don’t have to go past that. Just be you, draw back, don’t let it consume you.

Does that mean it will stop? Of course not, but tomorrow it will be more of the same, or a new angle being flung at you, something, and if you are smart enough to know that you don’t have to feed into it, that you are also entitled to empathy, feelings, your own position, that you are worthwhile it will be easier to continue to be you. Stick by your positions. Wait this out, because there will be a day when we are talking about how it was, not how it is… Dell

Prison 101:10

STOP! This material is NOT edited for content. It is not fiction. It contains explicit language and descriptions of real situations. It is not suitable for minors, and may not be suitable for people who easily disturbed…


I saw the same things cause the same problems in prison over and over again. In the real world we said it was Drugs, Gambling and Pussy. In prison it is the same, only whatever can pass for pussy, usually that is a guy, but sometimes it is a civilian woman or officer.

You have to be so careful, it is major drama. If the guy is pretty, woman like, some gang will take control and then there is major drama. Men who have long-term lovers often refer to the man as their wife.

I watched the homosexuals, and the guys who had been turned as we called it, come and go. They were never around long because they were instant trouble. Men got stabbed and died because of them, gang shit popped off because of them. It was always bad, and the whole prison sometimes sighed in relief when they left.

The gamblers were another matter. The same guys doing the same dumb shit they did on the streets. I met a guy who liked to gamble. He ended up going up against a friend of mine who was very good. My friend had been in a motorcycle gang before he came in. Not a joke, a genuine bad ass. I had nothing to do with the situation that came to be, but heard about it after the fact. Usually the guys he gambled with gambled for a few bucks, maybe a few hundred if it was a big football game, a once a year thing, but most of the time it was small change, but this guy got into my friend for several thousand dollars.

My friend told the guy he had to pay when he came to him whining about how he didn’t have that much. There wasn’t a choice, so the guy said no problem. A few days later he gives my friend the money.

I found out months later what had happened through another friend, after the C.O.’s came and snatched my friend from the rec yard. Another friend told me what happened. The guy’s wife had stolen the money from where she worked. The guy had called her and lied. He told her he had to pay it for protection or he would be killed. The wife got caught, she told what the husband had said, the husband turned on the guy and that was that. The wife got two years, my friend got a few more years added on, and the guy that owed the debt got transferred to another prison. So there really are guys in prison who should be there and they are just as big a scum bag in prison as they were outside of it. I felt badly for the wife.

Drugs were a bad deal too. I saw a lot of bad shit happen because of drug deals. Men come from the streets thinking they can keep their addictions. They get right into a guy for whatever their drug of choice is. Heroin, Cocaine, Pot, Alcohol and pretty much everything else. You don’t see much E, Methamphetamine, or Crack, simply because guys too often lose their heads on that stuff and then once they come too in the hospital or the box they tell on everyone. That is bad for their health, and they will pay for it, but it is also bad for the seller and they will also pay for it. Most of the time they run up a bill for H, or Pot, or whatever and then they decide, irrationally, that they can stiff the guy and nothing can happen to them. That always ends up bad. Usually they send someone to converse with them. That is what they say, converse, like we are all sane and things are just fine, and we’re just having a conversation here, that’s all.

Conversing rarely does any good, so the next thing is they send the guy that spends all day at the weight shack in the yard. He gets a job there because other than lift weights he has nothing else he wants to do, but he has to live, buy commissary, so occasionally he smacks the shit out of someone that owes money to one of the connections for gambling, drugs, or ass.

Sometimes getting your ass kicked pretty hard does it for you and you cough up the money or make plans to pay it back: If you are a young, good looking guy that might mean you’ll get passed around to a few men until the debt is paid off.

I saw this happen more than once:

You are out in the yard on Friday night. Recreation is close to over. The shift change has happened. It is the weekend coming up so all the officers will be fill ins in most cases, or swapping their time. The officer you came to the rec yard with won’t be the officer you’ll go back with. The officers watching you over the weekend also won’t be the officers that have that block the majority of the time.

You have to go back and spend the night with a guy in his cell, in place of his cell mate. So you both head for the bathroom, one place where you are not totally observed. The one guy is wearing something bright, something that will be noticed. You switch those tops, usually a sweat shirt, yellow, red, doesn’t matter. You also switch prison issue tops, they have your name on them. You walk out of the bathroom like you have the biggest balls in the world. When the block you have to go to is called you walk over and get in that line. The C.O. Counts. All he cares about is he came out with thirty six men and he is taking back thirty six men. The shift has changed since you came out, they always wait until afternoon Rec. And so you go back and become someone’s lover, willingly, or to pay a debt. Tomorrow you will do the same thing at early rec and go back to your own block.

Then I scoffed at the idea of getting involved in any sort of trouble like that, being one of those dummies, but there was a time before I went to prison where drama was in my life nearly all the time. I hated it, but I was also the creator of it most times. Either because of the lifestyle I lived, the people in my life, or the things I had done to others in my life. So I have been that dummy a few times in my life and it never turned out good for me.

I actually fell in love with a woman who was addicted to crack back in the late 80’s. We called them crack heads back then, male or female, it didn’t matter. All they cared about was the drug, getting it no matter what.

I didn’t know she was addicted to crack at first, when I found out I was at that fuck it, it doesn’t matter stage. I went to her place one night and she was high, a few minutes later some guy starts pounding on the door. Her supplier. She had been cracking it up on a tab, probably told him I would pay him. He pulled a knife, she pulled a knife and I was in the middle of it.

I stopped it, I’m a big guy, I suspect the little dealer guy didn’t want to really fuck with me, maybe thought I’d still be a problem if he stabbed me. Like an idiot I paid the guy off too. That was the end of her for me, but that was pretty bad. It could have cost me a lot.

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