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9. Respect: OR How To Get The Shit Kicked Out Of You In Prison

Everybody who's seen a prison movie or watched Locked Up knows it's all about respect in prison.  You've heard about how if you don't show respect you'll be full of holes and have a lock embedded in your head.  If you really and truly envision this, it becomes an absurd comedy.  (I really wish I had a dictionary to write down the correct definition of respect to really drive this home.  Before you go any farther look it up.  I'm gonna guess on it.)

Respect, to me, is a mutual understanding and a general get-along-ness a pair of, or group of, people acquire for each other after learning each has something of value to offer the other.  By 'value' I assume you know that I don't mean monetary value.  I mean intellectual and or industrial.  Some shit like that.

When you hear people complain that they don't like someone but they respect them they are lying.  They fear that person but can't or won't admit it.  That person has or knows something that is potentially harmful or threatening to the other.  Plain & simple, tits & ass, black & white.  It's fear, a quasi-respect that I'd like to talk about.

There's many ways to get the shit kicked out of yourself in prison.  No end of things.  The subtleties are of a culture all to itself.  In regular society, small almost undetectable facial gestures convey the whole spectrum of emotions, conveying feelings and intents before a word is even spoken.  In prison, you spend your whole day deliberately trying not to look at people.  Every intent is displayed through action.  ABSURD action.  Think of those brightly colored birds who dance around each other for hours in a brightly-decorated pseudo-threatening display.  It takes forever because one bird is scared and the other is glad of it.  Funniest of all is that, by the end of it, neither one gets laid because the female said 'fuck it' and let the raven hit it.  AM I RIGHT, FELLAS!?  Huh, huh?  Moving on.

In prison there are so many alpha males that civility is unattainable.  These men would like to be respected, but few have anything to offer so they confuse the word with fear, which they can offer, even if it's just brightly-colored feathers.  These men will puff up their chests and walk around as purposefully as possible, ideally with a couple of smaller dudes in tow.  Now say I'm walking down this hall and I bump into one of his feathers, (i.e. his massive freight-truck arm).  Correct protocol here is to say 'excuse me'.  this would be called 'showing respect.'  Now, I say it isn't.  There isn't anything mutual here.  Had the situation been the other way around I would not be shown the same respect.  Dick and nuts to me.  So, in turn I would be obliged to say something disrespectful to show I should have deserved the respect of an 'excuse me.'

So, now the feathers are out.  In most cases after some words it would be decided that I will get and 'excuse me' next fucking time.  You see how absurd this is getting?

The scenario could have become a fist fight very quickly, but more times than not it wouldn't.  What is being confused for respect is this throwback's want for recognition.  He wants you to acknowledge that he is there, that he matters.  The thing is he doesn't care if you want the same thing.

Now, in most cases everyone who walks by each other too close will say excuse me,  It's a general acknowledgement.  I see you, I know you exist.  If you're not on your toes, if you're not aware of your surroundings, it's possible to get hit in the face with a lock,

Another funny idea of respect in here is the politics of a fight.  Now, don't get me wrong. A lot of times there are no politics.  One minute you've got your dick in your hand pissing, the next minute you're snoring on the ground with your pants around your knees because you jumped ahead in line for the microwave.  It happens and usually you wont see it coming.  When it comes to fighting, it's just like anywhere else: nobody wants to be punched in the face.  It sucks and it hurts.  Most people stabbed or punched here never saw it coming.  Getting the upper hand is essential, especially when 80% of the guys are lifting weights all day.

When there is a face to face conflict more times than not it wont end up with fists flying.  What you're really establishing here is fear.  You;re letting this man know that you have no problem mashing his potato and he in return is letting you know that scrambling your egg wouldn't bother him any.  It's all barking through the fence.  This guy knows you're not easy prey and if he's going to get honest with himself he's come to terms with the fact that he'd probably get punched in the face during the fight, and we've already established that nobody likes to get punched in the face.  You now have a mutual fear for each other.  Congratulations!  This also serves as a warning to others that you, in fact, will be taking no shit.  Does it work?  Sometimes.  Depends on how convincing you are.  You can bark all day long but if you're 130lbs and your voice cracks at any time you might want to think about locking up or hitting the weight pit.

To tell you the truth, if you're built like that and sound like that this is all a non-issue.  You've already, I'm sure, seen a couple of dicks up close.  You've been approached by a predator and were found wanting.  Maybe.  Maybe you found respect at the end of a sharpened toothbrush.  Yeah, he respects the shit out of you now.

8. Jailhouse Ingenuity

"Less batteries and make sure your tube's warm when you do hot rails"

This is one of the numerous things I don't understand that I've overheard here.  I now know it pertains to making meth or some shit but it leads me into my ramble on jailhouse ingenuity.  That and I thought the sentence sounded beautiful, futuristic, deadly.  I like the way it sounds in my mouth, unlike, "if you mix ramen noodles, potato chips, and some random state ingredient, etc. it tastes vaguely like Taco Bell."  That, my friends is a lie.  a dirty, foul lie.

Convicts on the whole are terrific inventors and how can they not be with someone making up quotes like, "Necessity is mother of invention."  We really love to make the most out of nothing in here and you have no idea what you'e missing until you electrocute yourself making hot fucking water with a pair of fingernail clippers and an electric fan cord.  The funny thing is the state provides you with everything you need to make everything from a lighter to a passable version of a pussy.  You just have to figure out how to put the pieces together.

Take a simple AA battery (non-rechargeable).  How many things can you do with it besides using it to power ironically-retro CD Walkmans?  If you say "make meth" you're cheating.  We've already covered that above.  If you have a small amount of Brillo, or copper wire like you'd find in headphones, you've got a lighter for your three-dollar cigarette wrapped in toilet paper wrapper.  Hold one end of the wire on the negative terminal and the other to the side of the battery.  If your wire isn't too thick it should be scarring your thumb and forefinger right now.  Get that poorly-rolled smoke in there!  What do you do when that battery runs out of juice and you have to wait three weeks for a store order to come or worse, you don't even have money to order any?  Re-charge the fucker using the AC adapter you can buy on the yard for three bucks worth of noodles or soap.  I won't go into details how to do this in case some kid blows his face off.  If you really want to recharge non-rechargeable batteries the hard way, look it up.  You're already on the fucking internet.

Just so you don't think I'm an L7 I'll teach you how to make a stinger.  This is the electrocution device I mentioned earlier used to heat up water.  It's very simple and extremely effective.  All you need is a lamp cord and a set of fingernail clippers.  I'm going to try and explain this as accurately as I can but so you don't blow all the fuses in your garage impressing your buddies I'll include a diagram John can post if he wants.

Okay, take your fingernail clippers apart.  If this takes you more than 30 seconds, punch yourself in the face and stick to Legos.  You wont need the metal post that hold the shear to the lever.  Now the lever has a hole the post went through and the shear should have a hole that you would normally use to string a keychain through, or your dick, or whatever you put through holes when you think no one is looking.  These holes will have a wire threaded through them and tightly wrapped so a good connection is made.

You should now have a lamp cord with the shear half of the clippers attached to one wire and the lever half to the other.  You now have to acquire four zip ties and put the halves together as close as possible without letting them touch.  The best way is to put two zip ties around the lever half to create a plastic barrier and then zip tie the lever half piggy back to the shear.  Please don't do this until you've looked at the diagram, at least don't plug it in until then.  If you do, take video and send it to John, I wanna see it.

Okay, the two halves shouldn't be touching.  Once you've established that, get a cup of water that you want to heat.  Put the clippers (now your stinger) into the water and plug her in.  You should hear it humming to heaven.  You should also see all the nickel plating come off.  Let it go for while and start over.  The plating is only going to come off once.  DO NOT STICK YOUR FINGER IN THE WATER TO SEE IF IT IS HOT.  DO NOT USE A METAL CUP.  It's ok to hold the outside of the cup if need be to check the temp, or you can simply unplug it and test the water.

Now you're ready to add you cheap instant coffee or cook a beef stick while some guy gives you a tattoo and Hep C.  Good job!  Make sure you hide it well and don't let other convicts know you have it.  If you get caught with your stinger it's a dangerous contraband ticket.  You might as well have made a noose or a shank.

You might ask yourself, "Why the fuck would someone risk being put in the hole or at the worst being flopped for hot water?"

The answer is just to feel fucking normal, human.  There's things that eat at you, gnaw at your self.  Sure, they sell you instant coffee, but you're only out of your cell a couple hours to get lukewarm shower water to drink it.  It's the touchable allowance of a thing but when you try to grab it, it floats away like that buggy fucking thing you always see in your peripheral vision.  So you rebel, which in most cases is just saying, "I can do it my own fucking self."  It makes you feel useful and in control.  It's also nice to have a hot fucking cup of coffee.  You do it just cause you can.  Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

I don't need to get further into the shit you can make in prison, I'm sure you get the idea.  Suffice it to say, I've seen some amazing shit.  Truly fucking mind blowing in a Nikola Tesla sort of insane genius way.  I've also seen someone test how hot the water is with the stinger plugged in so I guess it evens out.

This entry was supposed to be about hustling which was brought upon by my watching my favorite movie The Hustler with Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason, and the pretty lady Piper.  It occurred to me when I sat to write it that the movie had nothing to do with hustling.

To me, Paul Newman has always been the coolest motherfucker on the planet.  Fuck Steve McQueen, fuck James Dean.  Paul Newman is coooooool.  If you don't believe me, watch The Hustler, the scene where Eddie and Sarah are in the Parisian restaurant.  Right before Eddie tells Sarah he's going to Louisville, Sarah orders a sherry ("something very old and very dry").  Watch the movement Eddie makes with his hand in front of his face when it cuts to him.  Now try to mimic that hand wave.  See?  Cool.  I love the madness between this couple, locked in the one room apartment.  Eddie believes he's a loser and Sarah is a crippled drunk trying to write a book and going to college on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Eddie asks what she does the rest of the days.  She responds: "drink."

The madness is Bukowskiesque and her being lame isn't a metaphor for anything.  Things just are and they aren't.  Every time I watch that movie I totally forget Gleason's in it.  Paul Newman's too cool.  Watch Cool Hand Luke.  Watch Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.  Watch any Newman flick.

If you want Gleason, watch him as Buford T. Justice, and when he gets home remind him to, "smack your momma in the mouf."

None of this has to do with the post, I'm just pushing my own agenda now.  WATCH MORE PAUL NEWMAN MOVIES.  John might even omit this last part.  He'd probably be right.

7. Things Are Tough All Over

Before I begin all of this, I want it to be known that I no longer blame my behavior on my upbringing.  I used to and up until recently still did.  It was so easy to use my past as an excuse to fuck up.  I thought it was a birth right.  My father was a fuck up, so why can't I be a fuck up?  There are studies supporting this idea and, just like any study, there are just as many that claim the opposite.  I don't pretend to know who is right.  I don't care.  I understand everyone's had it tough.  As it was put in the bastard novel of youth, The Outsiders, "Things are tough all over".  This is just what happened to me personally and isn't some shit-stain whiny attempt at sympathy.  I was told it would be a good idea to fill you all in on how I got to where I am.  I trust and value this person's opinion so I'm going to throw some shit at the fan.  And you try and not get any on you.

I was born in the late 70's when crimes weren't as heavily prosecuted as they are now.  When I was two, my father left to grab that elusive pack of smoked some father take to looking for when things get heavy.  Some fathers never find them and I'm sorry, I really am, I'm lucky that mine did.  After some years of foraging, he contacted me when I was 18.  After a severe asshole move on my part we've gotten pretty close, but I'm putting the balls before the dick as they say.

After my Da left, my mother and I stayed with my grandparents for a short while.  My grandparents are the greatest thing in my life but it couldn't keep me from the degenerate I was to become.  If you believe in fate or destiny understand that they are not always words attached to movie themes of rekindled love and finding lost puppies.  If there is such a thing as predestination, I stomp on the face of God.

My mother was raised well enough.  Not rich but not too far from poor.  A condition so many are familiar with, we'll call it  a normal upbringing.  She was born to my grandparents who met and fell in love shortly before the Korean war.  My grandfather is a tall handsome man with an unshakably optimistic but realistic disposition and the infallible wisdom of someone raised on a working 30's and 40's farm in rural Michigan.  He came from a respected family who weren't in the business of making sure everyone and their brother knew it.  They just were, and as a prize a road was named after them.  More than that was the utter simpleness of a related group of people who were good without show.  It sounds simple on paper but it's the type of people they write books like The Grapes of Wrath about.  I'm not the only person who believes my grandfather is the pinnacle of good men.  There are still well-respected men in my town who seek his advice and is one of the reasons my life choices are so shameful for me.

After he returned from the Korean War, he was reunited with my grandmother who is a piece of steel in her own right.  Meaner than a bear with babies she could come up with one sentence that would make any man question his gender.  I'm talking about a woman who had no problem making you kid cry in a restaurant.  She was strong for her own reasons and is as lovely a woman as you could meet.  She came from a moderate family of three sisters, born to a mother I don't remember and a father I also came to respect immensely.  Her father helped start the union at G.M. where he retired and I loved him very much.  I loved how fucking tough he was.  He was tough in a scary gangster of the 40's kind of way.  There are stories that I hear whispers of now and again that solidify this idea, but like any whisper you never get the whole meaning as that's what hushed voices are for.  I loved the fact that this great Hemingway-like man would hold me and give me butterscotch candies.  It was like he was a great unmeltable glacier.  I have old pictures of him wearing his sharp gangster-cut suits and felted fedora hats, stocky-built and straight-razor gaze.  I always wanted to be a split between my grandfather and him.  His bent boxer nose was the most worldly thing I think I ever saw.  We lost him not too long ago, along with my grandmother's sisters.  In the immortal words of Forrest Gump, "and that was that."

So, through him my grandmother was no nonsense, sometimes cruel, but unwavering.  I can't explain the complexities of this woman, I wouldn't even try, but I can see why my grandfather always held an unmovable love for her.  She was never one to compromise and neither was my grandfather.  They married and had two kids, my mother first, followed by my uncle an couple years later.  My grandfather left the farm but we were never far from it.  I have great memories of spending whole afternoons picking up rocks out of the field in return for rides on an old swayback horse everyone loved named Dawn and salty homemade ice cream.  I know it sounds too romantic to be true, but there it is.  I have some good memories.

My grandfather took a job at the Sheriff's Department, but at the time it paid so little that he had to supplement his income by working with a tow truck company part time.  He got to police an accident, then clean up the fucking mess.  He worked hard and kept his gun belt on the back of a kitchen chair.  He worked and he raised his children as well as any man could.

My mother has told me that they daughter of a cop is either really good or really bad, I won't say which she was but suffice it to say she didn't end up wearing a habit.  So, as Harry Chapin would sing you, she was raised up in the usual way.  She received a diploma and married my father shotgun style.  It lasted for two or three years and I don't know enough of the history to relate it here but I guess we all know what happened.  Sometimes people marry for the wrong reasons and nobody's really to blame.  Not really.

We moved in with my grandparents and that's when I started being what I am I guess.  While my mother was sleeping I put a whole jar of Vaseline in her hair, which she always kept long.  If you're not hip, Vaseline does not come out of hair.  As punishment for this act my mother still shows people pictures of me wearing superman undies.

I want to stop and say that this recollection of my early childhood may not be 100% accurate as  I don't remember a whole shit ton of it.  I'm writing from accounts told to me for the most part.  I don't really remember too much from 2nd to 6th grade in any kind of linear fashion.  Also I have only been sending out first drafts because I hate to write longhand, so if this becomes a little jumpy well, sorry and fuck you very much.

Anyways, like a lot of women do, my mother got remarried when she got pregnant again.  I was three and the man she married was a pretty good guy, not counting the fact that he had a perm.  I had a brother and things were good for a while.  My brother's dad and family accepted me as their own.  I called him dad and my mother divorced him because he was too nice.  As she put it, she couldn't see herself with a man who wouldn't say no.  She claimed she would say she was going out and he would say okay and stay with us kids.  A weak spine doth a weak man make?  I don't fucking know but to me, it reeks of a woman who wants out of something.  I don't know for sure.  I don't remember the breakup at all.  I remember visiting him every other weekend for a few years but as I became more destructive my brother's dad distanced himself further.  We don't speak but my brother has a fairly good relationship with him.

I remember we used to visit him out at this old farm house he rented with another guy and there were some fun times.  The house was built up on a hill that to me, at that age, seemed like a mountain.  My bike would go so fucking fast down the dirt driveway I'd get speed wobbles and wipe out, tumbling over and over and wincing from peroxide as my brothers dad pulled gravel out of my knees.

There was an old bull that was kept in a small pen out back.  My brother and I would dare each other to go in but neither of us ever did.  My brother's dad and his roommate used to throw parties out there and I remember once being scared shitless watching a biker almost get trampled.  They were all standing around drinking beer and talking about how much pussy the other was or wasn't getting when this huge biker who was friends with my step dad's roommate claimed he could knock the bull out.  At the time I didn't think it was impossible.  This biker looked to be the size of the great Hacksaw Jim Duggan.  I don't remember whose colors he was wearing but I remember he frightened me.  I remember his beard stank like cigarettes and beer when he leaned over to tell me dirty jokes I didn't get but laughed at anyway.  I believed him when he said he could knock the bull out.  Everybody laughed until he started to climb the fence, I don't remember anyone laughing then.  The bull didn't move when he approached.  It just looked at him with that dumb bored face all cows have.  He stood in front of it obviously drunk and punched it so hard I swear I saw one of the bulls eyes go wonky but I could be making that up.  What I'm not making up is the fact that I've never seen a 300+ pound drunk biker run so fast in my life.  The bull, obviously pissed he'd been punched for no reason, charged - kick-starting the biker with a head butt and chasing him over the fence.  It terrified me and all the men laughed and stunk.  For a long time drunk men scared me and, to a certain extent, they still do.  It's the rheumy eyes that look like they're on the verge of tears, revealing men at their most scared vulnerability.  When I get around a group of drunk men I'm apprehensive.  Drunk men have something to prove, I'm no exception.  Most times proving ones self hurts and all the time it proves nothing.

Good times never last, though.  I started having a tough time in school.  Acting out a being a general pain in the ass.  I'm not sure what started this, I don't remember, but I do know I was a terrible student.  I wasn't dumb, I've always tested well, but I've always had a tough time with any kind of authority.  I would openly defy my teachers to the extent that I pissed of a 2nd grade teacher so bad he either quit or got fired.  I don't remember which.  I do remember after being a perfect shit he threw me into the chalk board.  I had a new teacher after that.

Things went that way for a while I guess.  I know I had to start going to therapy then and was forced to have to do so in my teens.  I hate therapists with a passion - these pretentious pricks.  To this day I wont suffer one and will actively fuck with one to the extent that they reconsider their career choice.  There is nothing so damagingly egotistical than a person who claims to know how ones mind works based on an hours worth of information he or she receives weekly, and then has the balls to make major life changing decisions for a person based on this.  I'm not sure how these people sleep.  I don't believe the human psyche is an exact science by any means.  Disorders can be understood once they have been found and the symptoms recorded.  They can write papers which claim to understand how these disorders came about, some may even be accurate to an extent.  But for a confused child who isn't sure what's wrong, or how to express it even if he did, to be constantly prodded by a person who, ultimately, could give a fuck is criminal.  This quack who tries to glean the mysteries of an eight year old's mind an hour at a time, claiming to know what's good for that child, writing notes that will be forgotten as soon as the next child comes in is akin to pedophaelia.  State and county-paid child psychologists are the takers of innocence.  If you weren't fucked up before you entered the office give it a couple weeks and you will be.  You'll receive a nice little disorder that makes a difference to the grooming of your new little disordered life.  Now you need special attention.  Now you're a "problem child" that will be watched.  Being watched can make a person paranoid.  Even if it's untrue, being told as a child that you have one disorder or another can create one.  I firmly believe this.  I know that sounded like a crazy, biased rant and it is.

Except for Hobo.  It's the exceptions that prove the rule.  In my early teens I had an ex-biker therapist named Hobo I was ordered to see by the state.  He was the exception.  He listened and that was it, then gave me no bullshit answers to my questions.  It took a long time for us to get to that point and once we did, the state decided my therapy time was concluded.  The state doesn't care about helping you as much as it cares about it's funding.  The state receives a certain amount to do a certain amount.  I was ordered by the state to see this therapist for x amount of weeks and they will only pay for this therapist for those x amount of weeks.  Whether you are making progress or not is irrelevant.  Once your mandated weeks are up, you're out.  This is one of the reasons it enraged me so much.  I understood this from the beginning so I made no attempt to open up to any therapist.  Then, once I did it it backfired on me and left more than a bitter taste in my mouth.  Some of you probably have an idea what it costs to be in therapy.  For me, once the state discontinued to pay for me to keep seeing Hobo we couldn't continue to pay for it ourselves.  This vicious state-funded circle has created many criminals I think.  I don't doubt it one bit.  Therapy didn't work for me because I'm not content to blurt out my problems to some bobble headed shrink only to have it blow up in my face and never receive any answers.  I won't waste your time with my dislike for child therapists.  I haven't ever sat and tried to think it out and the first draft of a paper going straight to the public probably isn't the forum.  I'm going to call it and say this is enough for now.  In the next post I will share my exciting upbringing in a particular little trailer park in the woods.  So here I show you both sides of my hands.  New deck.  Prison still sucks. - Ryan Martin

6. Question and Answer

I am super excited to get questions already.  Fast for me, anyhow.  I realize it's a billion years in internet time.  Please bear with us as John has to send the questions to me and I then have to write and mail them off.  John then has to try to read my mess, transcribe it onto here, take out the garbage, go to work, ride motorcycles, send me sweet books, lift chicks by their nips.  No end to things, it's a process.  We're lucky John gets it done so expediently.

Anywho, question #1
What's the most ridiculous thing you've seen since you were incarcerated?

This is a good one, as I could fill pages with funny, crazy shit.  I was once bunkies with a guy who thought Jesus gave him the power to shoot lasers out of his eyes.  I've seen the biggest, hairiest men try to look like ladies with Kool-Aid and M&Ms.  Man did those dudes GLIDE.  More goofy crimes than I can recount, but I'll tell you about the most ridiculous introduction I have ever overheard.

While I was in quarantine waiting to catch a chain out to my permanent joint I was a porter.  I was let out of my cell from 6am to 2pm to take a broom and other cleaning supplies to the other convicts while they were locked down.  This is both a blessing and a curse.  I'm out of my cell for a while which is nice but I hate stupid people and there is no shortage here.  I want to clear up that statement by saying that I'm not an asshole, some could say I'm stupid for being here and it's true.  I'm talking about good, old dyed-in the wool stupid.  I would get questions from young guys that went like this.
"Hey, porter."
"Hey man, you think the mats gonna be comfortable in the joint we go to?"
No lie, real question.  So anyways, I'm doing my job and there are two guys outside of their cells waiting to be let back in after a call-out.  As I approach I hear them talking.  This is the part I heard, verbatim.
"Hey, man.  What's up?  You remember me from MTU?"
"Naw, man.  I haven't been to the "U" in ten years, man."
"I'm Scraw, man, remember?  I was the guy that got raped by those four dudes."
"Oh yeah, man.  I remember you.  What's been happenin'?"
"You know, not shit, back in this bitch."
That, my friends, is seriously ridiculous.  The fact that a man mentioning being raped by four dudes is not affecting either of them is the exact definition, I think.

Question #2
I'm curious to know what he did, but I'll also understand if he'd prefer not to tell.  Also, how do movies or TV (I'm thinking Shawshank Redemption / Prison Break) compare to the real thing?

Two parter, trying to catch me slipping.  I'm here because I took advantage of a dog.  I didn't get a first degree luckily but what they don't know is there was premeditation.  I knew exactly what I was doing when I got that peanut butter out of the cupboard.  No, really, I'm here on a probation violation.  I was re-sentenced to the original crime from forever ago which was a third drunk driving, driving while license suspended, and possession of a switch blade.  John will link my OTIS info on the site.  How a probation violation got me prison time is something that I will go into further when I get more into my history.

As for prison being like TV or movies, it's not.  Crazy shit does happen in prison, don't misunderstand.  Lots of crazy, unfulfilling bullshit happens here, the thing is in between those times is mind-numbing boredom.  I'm not talking about what should I do for an hour before I go to the gym boredom.  I'm talking about eight to ten hours of day-dragging, wanting someone to get stabbed just so there's some excitement.  On TV, things are always happening, something's shaking.  The reality is it could take a couple of hours waiting just to run the numbers for a football game to another unit.  The "REAL THING" is hours, days, months of waiting.  the thing is the waiting is deadly serious.  Everyone is on their toes which makes day to day living tense.  Some guys have been waiting longer than you may have, so an accidental bump or simple eye contact can break an already tight string.  People get to scrapping over literally nothing in here, it's just as easy to get stabbed because you looked at someone's tray of food too long as it is to not.  But between all this are long periods of tense quiet.  Not good TV, I guess.  I'd watch it.

Question #3
Ask him how he perceives time passing by.

I really like this question.  I don't think many people understand how relative time really is.  While Einstein's Theory of relativity is only understood by two people, and frankly one of them HAS to be lying.  Some of it can be simplified.  The passage of time, to me, seems to depend on the amount, or lack of, pleasure you're having.  I mean, say I'm just getting off work (which to for-ev-er) and my wife has told me she needs me home by 6 o'clock.  That gives me two hours to hang out with my friend, Eron, before she starts calling me to complain that 6 o'clock was 30 minutes ago.  The time spent with Eron seems to be 10x faster than the subsequent two hours of bitching I get from the wife.

When you're experiencing something pleasurable, time seems to pass much quicker than when doing something less pleasurable.  The things we find pleasurable and the space it fills are relative.  As much as I would love to go into time being cut like a loaf of bread and everyone's perception of any instant being different I won't.  I just want you to know that I could.

Prison is very unpleasurable and it drags.  It would be hard to explain it to any one individual but I'll try.  Time here passes about as fast as it does when your kid has a pants load of shit and you're 10 deep in the 15 or less scan-yourself line and everyone has 27 things.  Oh, and you're late to receive some shiny new thing you've always wanted.  You perceive everyone around you is being an asshole and dragging their feet purposely.  Dicks.

By the way, I hate those you-scan lines.  Ummmmm, I don't fucking work here.  I pay for it, you ring it up.

Last question
My question for him is if he has any formal experience writing?

Hmmm, I'm not sure.  Have I ever written while dressed formally?  Yes, at Eron's wedding.  Have I ever been published?  No.  Have I ever taken college courses?  There ain't nothin' they can teach that you can't learn on the streets.  I don't claim to be a great writer but I also don't think a college can make one.  It can teach you sentence structure, grammar, etc.  But classes can't teach you to speak in the written form.  I would like to think that the greats (well, the greats to me) weren't taught to be great.  They were just filling time.  It seems to me very few of the the people who teach writing are great writers.  I don't way this because I feel the need to defend anything because I lack something, I just feel this is a truth.  Great writing is completely subjective and I feel too many people are forced to read horrible writers because somebody of influence decided they were great.  I've read better written "airplane" novels than I have from unreadable "greats."  I sincerely think a person can write passably well if he reads obsessively often.  I don't think I am by any means a great writer.  I don't often consider myself good.  I don't think you can work yourself up to being a great writer either.  I guess you either are or you aren't.  If you question is meant to mean you think I am a passable writer, then I thank you.  I do enjoy writing.  I really, really do.  I have no delusions of being some great 20th century writer.  I'm happy that this has gotten any attention outside of friends and family who have to tell you that you're super fucking awesome.  I have personal friends who are much better writers and whose hard work at it deserves much more attention than it gets.  Maybe she should go to prison and see what happens.

Maybe not.  But the answer to the question is no.  No formal experience writing, except that one time, in a tux, writing dirty jokes on a napkin.

5. A Badge of Honor

Okay, I finally received some questions, so I'm excited to answer those but first I want to apologize for not getting to the point in my last post.  I didn't realize it until I had sent it and have been kicking myself since.  I meant to wrap that up with the fact that we come to accept our life of incarceration and then become comfortable in it.  That is what makes rehabilitation impossible.  After a couple of years you don't "hate" prison, you accept it.  And just like any other situation you adapt and make the most of it.  In fact, the majority of men in here actually like it.

They wont admit it openly, but for some this is a badge of honor.  Media makes it that way.  If you're in prison, you're automatically tough (not true), a guy not to fuck with.  Free men respect it and unfortunately a lot of women are turned on by it.  I could get into the biological reasons behind this but it's nerdy and unimportant.  TV and movies portray the lonely rebel who didn't do it, or was imprisoned for an unjust amount of time and must overcome the odds and the animals.  Even if this were true, that still only makes one innocent man out of thousands of animals.  You think you picked correctly, girls?  Let me know how being on 48 Hours works out for you.  

Again, I'm straying.  Acceptance and rehabilitation goddamn I'm going to say it.  Prison is too easy in the long term.  Like I said, humans can get used to anything.  The first year or two here is hell.  There is a lot to learn and nobody to teach you.  If one could be dragged through this hell and then surprised with, "Okay, fucker, time to go.  Try to keep your hands to yourself and you won't have to have someone looking at your asshole every time you switch buildings."  we might have fewer returns.  Probably not.  The death sentence doesn't even deter crime.

Maybe acceptance has nothing to do with rehabilitation per-se as much as it has to do with forgetting.  It's easy to forget how much that first year sucked, that you wanted to die you missed your children so much.  Acceptance must be a form of forgetfulness.  I've forgotten what life was like with two arms.  I wouldn't even know what to do with two fucking arms.  (I would wipe my ass in tandem and grab two boobs at one time.  Wait.  Two different things, two different times of day.)

It's why heroin addicts return to the needle after countless times being sick, shaking with sweat and splintered bones.  It's easy to forget the hard parts when life gets soft and comfortable.  I guess I'll stop with this philosophical bullshit.  It'll lead me nowhere.  On to the fun questions.