When I was a young man I thought I had all the answers. I thought I knew who I was, what I wanted out of life, how I was going to get those things. Nobody could tell me differently. When someone would give me a piece of advice I would think yeah, but those things don’t apply to me.
Now that I am in my mid-forties I realize that not only did I not have all the answers, I didn’t even know what the real questions were. I am in a search mode in my life.
What am I searching for? Knowledge. The knowledge that I thought I had when at 17 I informed my parents and family that I was dropping out of school and joining the Army, I was sick and tired of having other people tell me what to do and I wasn’t going to put up with it anymore. Yeah, just ask me how that worked out for me! The knowledge that I thought I had when I was sure I could out-smart the system and get rich without working for it. All I ended up doing is outsmarting myself and landing myself in prison… FOUR TIMES!! Can you say slow learner.
The knowledge to understand and accept my limitations. The knowledge to understand that I do not control everything and that, contrary to my previous beliefs, everything does not revolve around me and my wants and needs.
I am searching for power in my life. No, not the power to control others or to get out of this cell, but power to be the very best man that I can possibly be. The power to be a friend that a friend would want, the power to be a loving brother to my brothers and sisters, whether they are willing to recognize the change or not. The power to live a life or honesty and integrity, instead of a life of roguishness.
I am searching for inner peace. To be able to rid myself of the inner demons that still haunt my dreams. The inner peace to be able to live with the person I am until I become the person I would like to be. To have the inner peace to be able to content no matter what my circumstances are. To come to grips with the reality that I will never again be a free man.
Most of all I am searching for a friend. Someone who will recognize that I am more than just a number behind a razor wire fence. That no matter my crime, or how long that I’ve been in here I am still a human being with feelings. I’m not searching for a wife, or a relationship, but for someone who cares.
… With good fortune the Hunger Strike will produce favorable outcomes. People shouldn’t have to starve themselves in America to be treated with some civility and humanely. Psychological torture mustn’t be a principle the United States holds on to just because the targeted are prisoners.
Well I have arrived on a new unit. I am here for computer aided drafting. It seems okay here. Just really crowded. Lots of people in a really small place. This is before the instituted standards for minimum living space for offenders. This place is old.
Life is still going pretty good. Not much excitement on the homefront. My sister is pregnant. That is awesome news. I am going to be an uncle. It has been so long. My baby sister is all grown up now. She was 18 when I came to prison.
I wish mom would write. That is something that eats at me daily. I try not to let it bother me, but it does. I miss my mother.
Soccer yesterday. OK, here goes my day in a nutshell. 4:30 I wake-up, wash-up, brush teeth, put on water for coffee. Roll up my mattress, sit & drink my coffee, use toilet, pick up everything off the floor & sweep & mop the cell. If it’s the weekend I do this after breakfast and wipe all the walls & ceiling down, along with my celly’s TV & clean my fan. After I clean the sink I shave my head & face. Then I sit down & write in my journal, do some crossword puzzles or read. I usually try to do something constructive for the ½ hour after I do the chores & breakfast. After chow Mon- Fri I go to voc. I do book work & work on small engines. Last week I put a lift kit on a trailer to make enough clearance for bigger tires. It turned out pretty good. If I’m healthy I work out at 10 am – 10:30. After lunch we work on stuff. I sometimes sabotage an engine or two to have these guys trouble-shoot. We get off of work at 1:45 when I get to the yard I play soccer, go in at 2:30 if we have dayroom so I can shower. If not I go in at 3:30 & get a worker’s shower. Or I just bird-bath. I’ll do some prep work. That’s the self-help course I’m doing to try to learn to be a better person. One is an anger-management one is a self-development-self-help. I like them, I’m learning a lot about myself, it’s helping me to discover my downfalls & defects. So, after dinner I watch TV & bullshit. I go to bed about 8:30 – 9:30, depending on how tired I am obviously.
On the weekends I don’t go to work. So I come home from chow and clean the house real good. I have the house all to myself so I can take my time & do it at my leisure. Sometimes I’ll take advantage of being alone & get naked for a while. ☺ Then, I read, write or something. AM yard. Soccer. Come back and bird-bath. I don’t go to dayroom. I don’t use the phone as much as I did now that Mona’s gone. So, since I don’t use it I don’t go to dayroom, keeps me out of trouble. Don’t like to be around all these weirdos. So, if it’s afternoon yard, same thing. Soccer till 3:00. Then I pre-shower on the yard, come in and finish with a bird-bath. Then, lounge. Watch TV. So that’s pretty much how I do things. It’s not very exciting the way I live. I like it like that.
… Upon the reflection of worldly events one has come to realize the shortcomings of labels and dogmatic belief systems. Flexibility, understanding and respect for all beings are the keys to harmony within society. Everyone matters as the smallest ripple within this world and one has the potential to affect millions. In thinking this way perhaps compassion for life in all its myriad forms will blossom into mindfulness for who wouldn’t want that.
Oh, new program, they’re walking through the pods checking us every 30 minutes. So far it’s really slowed the shower and yard program down. I’m really not looking forward to being woken up every half-hour when they unchain the pod doors, stomp up and down the stairs and shine a flashlight in my face. And goodbye any tiny little bit of privacy we had, now it’s zoo animal status every 30 minutes. Passing out mail ain’t gonna be happening either, good thing I don’t get any. I assume this is just more pre-strike retaliation. Yeah, was just informed there’s no time for mail to be passed out. If I didn’t have to live here I’d find it comical how much extra work they’ll create for themselves to try to make life in here a little more difficult to endure and dehumanize us a little more. One good thing, though, I saw a concert video of Sonic Youth, Nirvana, Dinosaur Jr. and Babes in Toyland today! It’s been so long since I heard a lot of that stuff. 1991, man, life was so good back then, had my family and friends, human contact, an actual life. Sometimes I think I must be dead already, cause this can’t really be life.
Roy J Chitwood
April 20, 2008
Spring is here. The weather has been glorious. Smelling the fresh cut grass. There’s a highway out pass the wire and you see the bikes and people hauling the boats to the lake. Life has picked up again out there after the slowing down of winter. There’s a freshness in the air, a reviving.
It’s hard not to think about things outside. You try hard to keep them in a box inside you but it’s so tempting to lift the lid and take a few memories out just to dwell on them. Sometimes this isn’t a good thing in here. At first it brings a few warm feelings and a smile to your face but all of sudden you find yourself trudging around that same fenced yard and although there’s a date in the future when all this will end you can’t seem to get a handle on that. So what started out as a small respite to this nightmare has bitten you pretty hard.
It’s these waves of depression that so many struggle with in here. You shrug it off or it will drive you nuts. But that’s okay. I was there on that beach again not so long ago working with my girl, hearing her laugh or when we were standing in front of this waterfall in this canyon I took her to when we first met. That’s cool huh? No matter how much prison can take from you it can’t take that. We as humans can adapt and can go on. I have that something deep inside me that no prison can touch. I can go there and be free.