Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"A Day In The Life...(Part 1)

5:55am - It begins with the shrill, piercing sound of a whistle shattering the restless slumber in which I am partaking. Whatever small respite my dreams have granted from this reality is instantly ripped from my grasp as I scramble from my bed.

It is the first head count of the day in which we are required to stand. This is no easy task for me though. Besides the fact that I am only half awake and not yet in full control of my limbs, I am also on the top bunk in a 5'x12' cell with another grown man, surrounded by sharp steel and concrete. Not much space to maneuver. Federal law mandates that a double cell should be larger but this prison was built 100 years ago and is grandfathered out.

Increasing the danger in climbing down is the fact that there is no ladder. I have the choice of dropping down to a concrete floor. If I'm lucky I won't miss the edge of the toilet in the darkness and end up ankle deep in water...and possibly some other liquid I won't mention here.

This time I make it down without incident and position myself on the floor to wait for two officers counting to pass by the cell. It takes longer than necessary, as they stop at every other door to scream at the occupants that weren't standing fully. There is a tone in their voices that is more reminiscent of a master to a bad dog, than a man speaking to another man. But that is how we are often viewed, as animals in need of training or lethal injection.

Meanwhile, I am shivering from the cold. Our cells are drafty and damp, and there is no heat...Only steam pipes running throughout the prison. It's wintertime, and I can nearly see my breath. The summer will be worse, since there is no air conditioning. At least its easier to stay warm than cool down. Also, I just woke up, so my bladder is full and my kidneys hurt from the need to urinate. No rush counting though, I'll be fine.

Finally, they pass by and I can relieve myself. Then it's back into the bed for 30 minutes or so. Mainly, because it is so cold and I want to be back under the blankets, but also because the door is still locked and I have nothing better to do. I would wash my face and get ready for breakfast but there is no hot water in the cells either. Too cold to use my sink, so I'll wait for the doors to open.

6:45am - I can hear the tell-tale clicking of doors opening as our day officially begins. An officer is calling for "Shop-Chow" to stand-by. That is for the inmates with jobs outside the cell-block. They always eat first, so they can get to work early.

I stay in bed, listening to my cell partner get ready for breakfast. He tries to be quiet but it is hard in such a confined space. There is last call for "Shop-Chow" and he heads out the door.

The rest of us will be called for chow about 30 minutes after the shops. I decide to go eat, but rest for another 15 minutes before getting ready.

7:20am - Breakfast. Our menu for today is: 2 boiled eggs, grits, 2 biscuits, fried potatoes, milk, juice and coffee...Sounds better than it is. The eggs are overcooked. The grits are cold and slimy. The biscuits are hard and dry...No butter and jelly. The potatoes are undercooked and have black spots on them. I try to drown the food in salt and pepper but most of it still tastes like dirt. The milk is cold but it is on the verge of going sour. The juice is in a bag and is more like Kool-Aid than fruit juice. The coffee is scolding hot and smells like urine. It doesn't taste much better.

I eat everything on the tray and somehow I'm still hungry. What I take away from breakfast is not nutrition and satisfaction but instead an upset stomach and bloating.

To Be Continued...

Thursday, May 12, 2011

"Love Story"

The old saying goes, "it is better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all." I am fairly certain that the originator had never loved or never lost. At the very least, he or she did not lose for long. I would challenge him or her to drink from my cup for awhile and see if he or she still feels the same. I hope you can bare through a bit of angst as I give my epithet to love.
- Kill me, Sarah, kill me again with love.-
She was my first love, if a 5-year-old can love. I know that I liked holding her hand and stealing kisses from her when our Moms were in the other room. Sarah never broke my heart, but we were jumping on the bed one time and her head hit me in the mouth. It busted my lip open. I remember thinking that the pain was worth the sympathy Sarah showed for the rest of the day. I would bleed every day to experience her tenderness for but a moment.
Then, one day, she was gone from my life, and I don't remember ever seeing her again. Of course, my memories of her remain, and at times she has been reflected in the eyes of others.
~No place like the road~
Between the ages of 5 and 10 I would spend the summer traveling with my Dad across the country. He was the stage manager for a number of children shows. It seemed that there was always a young lady in the cast I developed a crush on, most notably the girl who played Dorothy one year. She was the first to break my heart. She was 12 to 15 years older than me and never intended such a thing, but what can you say to a young boy "in love"... I suppose it was a lesson to be learned as much as a dagger to my heart.
~The Girl Next Door~
In 7th grade I pursued Mitzi. A lot of guys didn't think she was all that special, but to me she was the most beautiful girl in the school. My thoughts were consumed by her and whenever she was near, I felt weak. Even when I began to date another girl, it was Mitzi I wanted to be with. She never gave in to me, and then I moved away and never got a chance to win her over.
~30 days of Bliss~
After Mitzi it seemed there was no sunshine. She lit up every day for me, even if she was never mine. After I moved, I lost sight of love or crushes, or whatever, and grew a little cold. My heart had so many fractures at this point.
And then there Becky, and she brought the sun. She was pretty, smart, fun to be with , and she loved me. Every kiss was like fire and every touch like an electric shock. We were together for a month, and it was pure bliss. I have known happiness since that time, but I'm not sure it was as good. Sometimes I think that Becky was my soul mate, if such a thing exists.
One day I was sent off to private school, out of town. I was only gone for one semester, but when I came back Becky's family had moved away. Her father was in the Navy and he had been transferred to a station in Italy... I never saw Becky again.
~Beautiful Pain~
I have only loved two other girls since Becky, and both were nothing more than foolish pursuits on my part. The first was a broken shell that may have loved me, but was damaged emotionally. She suffocated em with her misery. The other never returned my feelings, or couldn't. Not in the way I hoped.
Love was beautiful when it was present and active, and it was painful the rest of the time. For each girl I have loved there is a wound in my heart where they drove their daggers. i have loved and I have lost, and then I screwed up my life. Now here I sit in prison with little hope at easing the suffering of lost love.
I have learned to live without that sort of love, as I have little chance to achieve a successful relationship in here, but to have loved and lost is a torture I can't shake. And yet, at times the memory is enough to inspire and motivate me to become someone the objects of my affection could have been proud to love... So maybe it was worth something after all.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

"Our Failing Tongues"

In an age of visual media we seem to be losing a mastery of the English language. What was once complex and beautiful, is becoming simplistic and vulgar. Look to Shakespeare or Chaucer to see just how words could once be used to express something more profound than the literal message. The ability communicate is becoming a lost art.
I often hear the corruption of the language by those who do not care to learn a proper way of speaking, or by those who think it is fashionable to use slang terms. What madness is it that finds "Ebonics" acceptable? To me it is ignorance, one we support with our action. Regardless of how intelligent one may be, how that individual is judged. To gain an elevated status in the eyes of our contemporaries and be respected, one must learn to communicate effectively.
I have discovered a few things that allow me to present myself as an intellectual and, while I am still perfecting my methods, I feel I have come to empower my speech by using these methods. We should all try to learn to be more effective in our communication, or prove to the rest of the world what fools we truly are.
And what are these methods:
1) Speak clearly- One should enunciate properly. Learn how to properly pronounce the words you use. Mispronunciation words make one appear ignorant. If one does not speak clearly, he may be misunderstood.
2) Make eye contact- Present a positive self-image, one that projects confidence in your words.
3) Be Concise- Get your point across without rambling speeches. You will lose your listener's focus if you don't get to the point
4) Be prepared to speak- Know what it is you wish to say, what is the message? Understood the meanings of the words you use and use them in the proper context. Remember, if your listener doesn't understand what you are trying to say, your message will not be delivered.
These are but a few simple tips. Properly applied they can make one a better communicator. We must hold on to the mastery of our tongue or find ourselves failing to present a respectable image. "For correct speech is a search for knowledge" - (The Book of Lecan)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

"Dreaming The Raven"

It was the dawn of a new day that I awoke to find myself on a blackened plain, charred by a destructive force. Bodies lay scattered as far as my eyes could see. Nothing moved but the dust and ashes of our past swirling in the winds, and I thought, we did this to ourselves.
Slowly I began to walk across the plain, calling out with the hope that someone remained alive, but there was no answer. The world was dead, murdered by the human race. Only the smoldering remains of our ignorance was left to keep me company.
As the gravity of the situation came down upon me, I fell to my knees. The crushing burden of mankind's sins weighed on my shoulders, for I knew my guild was no less. Tears began to flow.
For how long I knelt there and cried I am unsure, but I suddenly sensed I was being watched. Cautiously I raised my head and wiped the tears away. About 10 feet from me perched a large, black raven on the limb of a fire-scarred tree. A grin seemed to split it beak, as its beady eyes glared at me. Then it spoke:
"All is not lost, the world is not dead, it only sleeps. It sleeps a self-induced sleep of laziness, ignorance, and narrow-mindedness here in the plains of Illusion. They must come to realize what is and what is not if they are to ever awaken.
No, all is not lost is, but it is the responsibility of every individual to pull themselves from their slumber. Life is effort, an effort of logical thought geared towards comprehension. With comprehension comes truth.
These you see before you are not dead, they sleep fattened and content with their illusions. But you sleep no more, for you have seen beyond the illusions. Inquiry and deduction have opened the doors to reality. Now rise from the ashes and go forth to lay the foundations."
And with that, the Raven took flight, leaving me there on that plain. I was no longer alone in a world of dead, for wisdom would accompany me and soon a great nation would rise from its slumber.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

"Faith vs Science"

I have recently read several things that made me think on the subjects of faith and science. Often, these two institutions have been set in opposition of one another. Many try to use one to disprove or dismiss the other. I saw this to be a trend in the aforementioned materials, and it disturbed me.
From the corner of science, I have heard Atheists and Agnostics swing their facts like a sword, aimed at the heart of God. They point to theories such as evolution to 'disprove' creationist theories. Miracles are scoffed, and considered impossible. I have heard faith in god called "silly as believing in the Tooth Fairy. Religion was said to be a stick with which those in power beat their subordinates.
On the other side of the fence, I find even more ignorant arguments: "Science doesn't matter, I'll just rely on my faith." "Science is filled with falsehood designed by the devil to mislead." (i.e. Dinosaurs did not exist!) or "Perhaps there is supra rationality; reason beyond the normal definitions of fact or data-based logic;"
I could go on with all the examples of faith attacking science, or vice versa, but that is not what this about. My goal here is to express my own feelings on the matter. Using faith, fact, and logic I have come to my own conclusions.
In my examination of both faith and science, I have found them to not be conflicting, but compatible. The hold equal importance in matters of understand, wedded in the goal of connecting to divine. Faith is the hypothesis, science the proving ground every mystery there is in the universe. We are still working to understand all we can. This existence is a reflection of the divine. The more we understand the creation, the more we will understand the cause.
Faith is not foolish, it lets us hold on to an idea, until we can realize the truth faith is only foolish when it is allowed to blind one from the facts. We must not be afraid to let go of something we believe, if we are proved wrong. Holding on to a lie is not faith, it only leads to spite and weak foundations. Remember, what is the magic of yesterday is the science of today.
We must not be so eager to accept or dismiss. We must trust faith and science in our continued search for truth. As you come into harmony with truth, there you shall find wisdom. In wisdom, lies the highest form of faith... A righteous relationship with the divine without any doubt.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

"By the People, For the People"

'The greatest invention of mankind is the institution of government."
I may have misrepresented myself in the past as one opposed to government. On the contrary, I believe it to be important for any civilized society. Without government, there can be no clear organization of goals and interests. We are left only with a state of disorder, that lacks an inclination towards society's advancement, offers no protection of rights, and does not seek the interests of justice.
So why do I often present such an Anarchist attitude? Because, the politicians are mostly corrupt and in turn have corrupted our governments. The ideas behind political philosophies are well intentioned and designed with the common good in mind. No, the idea of government is not flawed, but the way in which it is administered.
Am I saying, then, that fault lies at the feet of the rulers? Not at all. The constituents of any administration are as much to blame for the mishandling of power as are the politicians. In a perfect state, the society works with its rulers to insure success in all areas of concern. There is no separation of 'government' and 'the people', for the government is 'the people' and the people are the government.
It was once said "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." For too many of us are outspoken about the issues but do little to see that anything is actually done. We were once a nation that fought for our beliefs, but now fear the overwhelming shadows of "political correctness" and threats of litigation.
I'm not saying we need take to the streets, only that as a society... No, as a race of beings who live on this one planet we must work toward out common goals together, alongside our rulers. And should these rulers oppose the institutes of righteousness, justice, and liberty, then it is our duty to cast them down from their thrones. Lay your feet upon the necks of the tyrants and demand the unity of a nation.
Government is good when it is just, and it works when the administrators and the people both seek the unified goal of advancement. Let us not lose sight of our dreams. Let us not fall victim to our own shortcomings.
Ask yourselves what you can do to better the world. There is nothing too small and no plan too great, there is only you to keep you from accomplishing great things and making a difference. Were every individual to make but one contribution to the betterment of our world, what a grand place it could be.