It has been almost 2 months since I self surrendered to federal prison in Texas. I would like to report that I am getting used to things but I have made a promise to myself to NEVER get used to the prison lifestyle.
Believe me when I tell you there is nothing physically hard about being in prison, quite the contrary. My days are punctuated with mealtime, workouts, reading, writing, classes, and napping more than a newborn kitten. What is hard is the constant emotional longing for my life outside the fence. Family, friends, good food, comfortable clothes, carpet……CARPET?!
This past Sunday I went to church and the service was held in a small room to the side of the chapel. As I walked in I immediately felt it, soft, and warm, with its sound absorbing beauty, it was carpet! I realized that in over 2 months I had only set foot on concrete and crushed gravel. I quickly took a seat in the very last row all to myself. As the service commenced I quietly slipped off my shoes and socks. I sat for the remaining 30 plus minutes barefoot and smiling. Who knew I would miss carpet? I figured what better place to beg for forgiveness if I was caught? I sure hope there’s carpet in Heaven.
As many of you know my wife is extremely talented at many thing but she has a particular knack for cooking. When it comes to the list of things I miss from home my wife’s cooking is in the top 10. It is not that they don’t feed us here; it’s more “what” they feed us here. Having served time in the U.S. military I am no stranger to “food for the masses” but what I am exposed to here in federal prison has brought things to a whole new level.
If it is processed and or canned they will serve it. I have not seen one piece of fresh fruit or a fresh vegetable since arriving. Canned corn and canned spinach are staples served at most meals. Frozen waffles (still frozen) served with watered down cream of wheat, bran flakes with water, rice and beans with raw (yes uncooked) rice. Oh and least I forget, the fruit cocktail. It is served with every meal, breakfast, lunch and dinner. YUM!
Now having joined the “never hurry, never worry and never, never, never, complain” club within a week of arriving, I can still honestly say that I am not complaining. I needed to lose weight when I got to prison and I see this menu as the government’s way of assisting me in that personal goal. However, I am in the minority and the natives are getting restless. I have heard several inmates threaten to write their congressmen declaring inhumane treatment and something about fresh fruits and deserts being a constitutional right. It has been a while since my high school civics class and I should really devote some of my free time to studying the constitution, because if that is true, I have some letters to write.
Speaking of free time, I have been using some of mine to lose weight and become physically fit. I have taken to walking at least 4 miles every day and running 3 or 4 miles every morning. Just last week I was asked by a guy from my building to join in a morning cardio workout group. Feeling pretty good about my progress over the past 6 or 7 weeks (I’m down over 34 pounds) I thought, “Sure how bad could it be?” I had no idea how many Olympic athletes and world-class triathletes were now federal prisoners serving time with me in Texas?
I mean these guys are sadists! I stuck with it for, oh, I don’t know, ten minutes.Quickly realizing I am still old and out of shape. At one point I could not tell if they were shouting words of encouragement or yelling for someone to get an ambulance? Either way I kept going until I couldn’t go anymore.
I think I will stick to my original workout plan once I am able to walk again. I even thought about trying Yoga or Pilates (yes they offer both here) but I overheard one of the Nazi storm troopers I was working out with say that he tried it and it kicked his butt. So I think I will put that on my schedule for the 1st of Neverwary! I think I get charged extra commissary dollars if they use the automatic external defibrillator more than once a month on you?
Oh yeah, commissary. In an earlier blog I mentioned my commitment to not eating anything from the commissary and only eating from the chow hall. Well, I am proud (I know I should not be using the word proud in the same context as the chow hall, but you get what I mean) to report I am still not eating any of the junk food from commissary. I need to emphasize “junk” food, because my roommate, Mike, was a chef in the “real world.” He is now the head of the administrative dining hall and serves the breakfast and lunch meals to all the staff members, so he gets to eat real food all day. Fresh fruits, real meats, fish, salads, you name it. At night sometimes Mike makes the most amazing healthy (at least that’s what I am telling myself) appetizers and snacks with commissary food.Things like shredded beef and sliced cheese on Wheat Thin crackers, some tuna casserole goodness made with who-knows-what? I have deviated slightly from the no commissary rule but only on occasion and still no junk food or sweets.
I can also report that I am doing okay (mostly because they do sell ibuprofen and Ben Gay in the commissary).I am losing weight, getting healthy and smiling in the back row at church. I am forever missing home, my kids, my wife, my friends, and good food.
There are some BIG changes coming very soon for me that I will be reporting on in a future blog and if there is any truth to the constitutional rights to fresh fruit and desserts I will asking all of you to help by writing your congressional representatives.
Meanwhile I ask everyone reading this to eat your favorite meal (sans fruit cocktail, sorry) barefoot on the carpet, smile, hug your loved ones and promise yourself to NEVER become “use to” negativity in your life.
Good things are just around the corner.