Well, on my 20-year wrongful conviction prison journey, I've crossed paths with many men, guilty and innocent, who will never step foot on free ground; prison is their permanent earthly home and the only way they'll leave is in a pine box. I've also met many men who can't read or write, so to suffer from mental incarceration while also being locked up physically would be unthinkable to me since my ability to think and learn is how I daily free myself in prison. Then there are those who didn't wake up this morning, who I am sure, had they known beforehand that they were going to die suddenly today would of liked to have brought some closure to certain areas of their life. So as long as I'm still breathing, knowing I have another day - another chance at achieving justice and my dreams - gives me hope.
Just so there's no confusion, let me remind you, emphatically, that I HATE prison. Okay, that's been clarified (again). But the harsh reality is I'm in prison, so while I'm here, I have to maintain a positive perspective if I want to survive and gain from this experience is being able to look pass the far more prevalent bad things in prison and to focus my attention on the few good things that exist. I have to focus extra hard sometimes, but I eventually see them (smile). Based on what I listed earlier, there are more good things to focus on right now during the Autumn and holiday season, so this hands down the best time of the year for all of us doing time.
When the first weekend of football games kicked-off, though it was still hot weather-wise, that's when the best time of the year officially started for us. Those of us who approached football, either with a passing or passionate interest, are transformed into die-hard sports fans in general, and expert analysts in prison because the hobby of keeping up with football season not only passes the time in an entertaining fashion but it makes the time to go by quicker. Inmates identify fanatically with certain teams on a gang-type level, going to such extremes as getting team logos tattooed on their bodies and using individual victories as temporary bragging rights for "their" team being the best. Others in prison use football season as their "hustle," becoming fervent students of the game and using their intelligence to make a dollar (in commissary items) on boards, or on guys with a weaker football intelligence. Then there are guys like me who love watching football and root for our favorite teams - GO TEXANS! - win or lose. Because I've been locked up since I was 17, there are so many things that I haven't done that I want to do, and attending a pro- or college game is one of them.
Whether it's quality or quantity, the meal trays being served these days in the Texas chow halls, as we call them, leave much to be desired. Massive budget cuts and our low social standing in the eyes of most politicians have resulted in our daily calorie intake going from around 2,500 to 2,000 and now it's at 1,800. There was a time when we use to get a dessert once a day and now it's once a week. Whole milk in a carton was replaced with powdered milk. I could go on and on, but who cares what or how much we eat, we're just a bunch of scum-bag inmates.
Anyway, shifting back to a more positive angle, our three best meals are clustered at this time of the year, being Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. We are given two trays (a hot tray and a dessert tray), as opposed to our usual one tray, and the heavy helpings are intentionally prepared with more spices and flavor. It's also the only time of the year we get to eat turkey and fresh fruit (apples and oranges) as well, other than the watermelon and cantaloupe that are grown in the fields on most units.
Then there are the seasonal "zoom-zooms and wham-whams" (prison slang for goodies) that are sold in the commissaries only during the holiday months that most of us look forward all year to devouring. For example, I've already bought (and devoured) one of the outrageously expensive $6.00 pecan pies, but they only come around once a year and I savored each crunchy bite. Another big hit is the beef summer sausages because there are so many ways to enjoy them, whether it's chopped up in a Ramen soup, on crackers with cheese, or put in some improvised, prison-style gumbo with other ingredients. The prison commissaries are also selling double-dipped chocolate covered peanuts, swiss rolls, cheesecake, dunkin' sticks, and several other items. (We're still waiting on the holiday treat baskets that are loaded with an assortment of goodies.)
Well, I would love to stay and chat, but this chilly, comfortable weather is too good to pass up. I think I'll climb in my bunk, get under my cozy blanket and free my cluttered mind through some adventurous, leisure reading. I'm coming up for parole for the very first time in February, so I'm trying to occupy myself to prevent thinking about it because it feels like the closer I get to potentially going home, the harder my time is getting, even during the best of the year. I'm pretty sure freedom via parole would solve most of my problems (obviously), but most of all I want justice (to be exonerated), and I won't stop until I get it.