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I believe I’m actually less than a week away from my release date. At least that is the rumor though I’ve had no official indication as such. Inmates aren’t afforded a lot of information, and then only on a need to know basis. I am careful not to get my hopes up. At first I took it personally, but the fact of the matter is: the guards don’t know shit either. You can’t believe a word they say and right now, they are saying nothing. For me questions are continuing to pile up a lot faster than the answers. Uncertainty is torture. Not knowing is tremendous pressure. I try to focus on me and goal setting but the questions come too fast and much too hard and relentlessly. What am I going to do? Who can I trust? Where do I fit in in the scheme of things? Where exactly does success lie for me? What am I truly good at? What do I really enjoy doing? How do I get started?

In a sense it really is a new beginning for me. And in spite of it all the questions, I work diligently in my mind to convince myself that I am looking forward to it, this “new” beginning. After all, this is America. People come from all over the world, millions each year, to restart their lives in a better place.

I also met with the doctor today. We decided he would provide me a copy of my chart. We also decided on a few blood tests to be completed before I’m disharged. He was covering his butt. That’s okay I guess. His job sucks enough; no need for me to make it worse, or him more miserable.

At some time I’m expecting someone to come by and draw a PT/INR, digoxin level, and uric acid. That should cover it. I pray it’s not that fat phlebotomist with the perpetual bad mood.

It’s funny, the little things that you miss. All I can think about is mouthwash and dental floss. I’m tired of flossing with thread from my pants and gargling with hot soapy water. It just isn’t doing it for me.

My daydreaming was interrupted at around 3:30 p.m. There was a great deal of commotion in the day room and so Niko went to the window to take a look. “Guess whose back?” he said almost chuckling.

I searched my data banks. Who had been gone with enough time to violate parole or probation? I could think of no one in particular, but any of these guys were capable of walking around the block and coming right back into jail. “I give up,” I said.

“Primo,” he laughed. “Primo is back.”

“How could that be?” I asked. “They were transferring him. They took him this morning at 0400. That’s crazy.”

Turns out Primo just went on a long- make that very long- bus ride, about 12 hours long to be exact. I couldn’t believe it. How could this be?  I wanted to talk to him about it at “unlock” but before I could, we were sent back to our cells. There was a fight in G mod next door and the entire building was being locked down.

It was Elrod, decompensating again. He was mad about something – generally with him it’s a perceived assault on his manhood- and got into an altercation with his toilet. He apparently began flushing things down it that either wouldn’t go or weren’t designed to go: clothes, bags, etc.  That’s a frequent occurrence here. A lot of the more emotionally challenged inmates use it as a way to irritate the guards. The toilet of course responded by overflowing and the guards responded by carting him off to isolation. My experience is that Elrod gets himself into those kinds of situations often. Something’s just not right with him.

After he had been dragged off, we were allowed to resume our “unlock” and the Monday night football game between Dallas and Carolina.

There is also a young black kid on H mod that I find particularly amusing. He’s about 5’3”, 110 lbs. Looks like a little boy, but you know he is bad. Not vicious, just bad. And believe me; he’s way too skinny to be tuff, and so in here he’s opted to be funny.

After Elrod’s ordeal, the kid was telling me, and any of the rest of our colleagues who would listen, about his brother who was shot with a taser. He shook, made sounds, and rolled his bug eyes back in his head. I laughed ‘til I cried. Man, was he funny. It really makes me wonder exactly what it is that he did to get in here. Oh, he’s bad, make no doubt about it, but again there is no anger or maliciousness in him. He’s more of a comedian.

Tattooed on his left arm are the initials M.C. I asked him his name. “I have a number of names,” he said as he extended his arm. “I’m M.C. as you can see tattooed here, but some people call me Snoopy.”

“Well, Snoopy,” I said, “You are too funny.”

From that moment on, Snoopy sought me out during “unlock”. I think a great deal of it, of collecting friends in here, is to ground oneself in familiarity, to find some sense of normalcy. It helps to see that familiar face every once in a while if just for a moment. It also helps to make sure you have allies in the event of trouble.

Snoopy also attempted to ask me for advice. He wanted to tell me about his case, but I would have none of it. I told him I didn’t need the details, but my advice to him was to take whatever deal he could get. “Do whatever it takes to get the system out of your life”.

His reason for being in Solano County this time was much too familiar. He too, like 80% to 90% of our colleagues, was here on a “parole violation”. That just meant that his incarceration was at the discretion of the authorities. More disturbing was that Snoopy only had three months left on his parole. It seemed to me that that was more than a coincidence. Over the past six months, I’d seen countless numbers of inmates brought in, and resentenced, guaranteeing their “participation” in the system for two or three more years for some perceived violation. The system, that is the criminal justice system, was supplying itself with more than enough work. They were ensuring that their numbers stayed high and that public was kept adequately afraid. The legislature was not going to make any cuts from their budget.

Nonetheless, I’m on short time. Over the past few days it has been difficult to suppress my excitement. It has also been hard to think about anything else but getting out. I am formulating to-do lists to arrange my schedule once again, and the lists are getting exhaustive and quite formidable. That is precisely the pitfall I wanted to avoid: the mistake of doing, or rather trying to do, too much. I guess it’s only natural under the circumstances. There is so much that I have missed over the past few months

Today is commissary day and today as usual we don’t receive an “unlock”. Commisary overrides everything. Thus we remained on “lockdown” the entire day.

On theTV news is a story of “The Newark School” in Oakland. The campus had been locked down because of a shooting involving several teens? There is an array of angry parents being held off by barricades from storming the school to retrieve their kids. I guess we’re not the only ones being locked down. They do it to school kids too.

A serial rapist was transferred to H mod today. His reason: he “needed to get away from his celly” that is “fifty-one fifty”. It refers to one’s mental status, but that begs the question, who’s crazier than a serial rapist? And to be honest, he looks like it. He’s an older black man, big guy, 6’3”, 280 lbs (or more) with gray hair and glasses. On the outside he looks like someone’s grandfather, a fair skinned black man who is more than willing to offer the advice that he has accumulated over the years. But his eyes, his eyes give him away. They’re darting and unclear. He appears to always be focusing on something that is not in the room.

Justice in here is quick. I suspect he needed to get away from his celly before he, the celly, killed him, the rapist. For now he has been banished to sit alone. In time, he’ll probably be sent to the infirmary. He won’t be killed, but he’ll probably be beaten up, serially.

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