Just over a year ago I wrote about the trip I took to go get X-rays on my teeth in preparation for a root canal surgery. I guess there was plenty of preparation needed as it took them just over a full year to perform the repair. They had told me a year before that I would need a root canal. The alternative would be extraction. I'm just now 35 and I really don't want half my teeth missing when I come home. Call me vain if you like, but I'm quite proud of my smile and besides I'm a big fan of steak and prime rib. I don't want to be gumming them when I finally get to sit down to a T-bone and a cold Bud Light.
As stated earlier this was a repeat of the road trip I took over a year ago. Shackles, strip search, a trip in a van with security officers and finally to the surgery.
You have to think, if your tooth give you a problem, you call, make an appointment and get results. I began to feel as if they were trying to corral me into pulling it.
At last the surgery was performed and I felt a wave of happiness. I shook the doctors hand and told him thank you. I brush and floss after each meal. I am a health conscience person and knowing I have some funk in my mouth was unsettling at the least. I truly feel repaired. Not to mention, I just had a $2500 surgery on you. Well, you're the taxpayer here.
I paid a $5 co-pay. I feel like a million bucks. So, I wanted to tell you thank you! You helped pay for my surgery and I'm one happy dude. I would like to point out I have been paying taxes through employment since I was 15 years old. Truly I don't feel bad about finally taking advantage of a benefit. Still, I'm real blessed to have this thing done.
My countdown continues. Six year here in prison. Only four left. And really, I'm just under that. Time is rolling past. I remember having those perfect days in the free world. The sun shining, you're on a beach soaking up the sun, the seagulls are flying overhead and the waves gently come ashore. You sit there and wish time could stand still. Well.....right now I pray them Godspeed.
May the days pass quickly and bring the day that I will once again pray for time to stand still.
This is exactly what we've been saying! As a community we should all want men and women to "come out better people". Art plays a massive role in how J.J. does his time in a positive and productive way.
Here at the Judicious Jailbird, we believe in just that. Encouraging inmates to stay connected to family and friends, the power of art and sharing stories......all to help men and women to come out better people.
It's been said that behind every good man is a great woman.
Looking back over my life that seems very true. As a boy your mom showers you, dresses you, makes your lunch and makes you brush your teeth. Some years later other women come along and take their place in your life. I smoked three packs a day before prison. Once in prison, I then smoked a box of TOP hand-rolled, non-filters a day. One day I had enough and decided to quit. That lasted a week and I was smoking again.
I had to come from a different angle, so I thought of my daughter. She will be 20 when I get out. I want to set a good example and I also want to enjoy a long life with her and all the people I love. With that in mind, I quit on her birthday. August, 2010.
I took that promise serious and have not had a smoke since.
Now, I enjoy visits from the woman who rocks my world. I don't need someone to tell me to shower and brush my teeth. But I do like it when this special little lady tells m she loves me and that I complete her.
When you think about it, there is no physical contact in a relationship over a fence. What you have is much deeper. Our minds work together. Our souls and hearts grow together because that's what we have. Men tend to come at these things from a physical angle and that was me at one time. This is the first time I truly made my lady my best friend. Learned to appreciate her for the wonderful person she is and took the time to learn to love and enjoy everything she has to offer. If more men would take the time to do just this, the rate of failed relationships would change drastically.
I'm currently in the best relationship I have ever had. It's based solely on a friendship and love I have for a woman who loves me for me.
When you can communicate your deepest feelings of love, hurt, anger, disappointment and shame over a fence and to someone hundreds of miles away you have reached another level of your relationship.
All my life I have looked out for me. Dealing people the hand that suited me best. These days I'm living life and doing time so I can come home and rest my head on my lady's pillow.
They open the gate and I walk into a visiting area and my lady stands. I walk to her and put my arms around her. The world stops. I'm 15 again and it's just the two of us. Nothing else exists. I smile. I have the great woman who when she stands beside me, makes me a great man. Happy Valentine's Day, my lady. Forever and a night, your man
I won't be going to AA this week. For a minute I thought about it, but then decided to stay home and play chess. Chess motivates my mind. I am strategizing to outsmart my opponent. None of these things are on the mind of someone who is high or an addict.
Seems like every time I go to class, I end up sitting in a circle with a bunch of dudes scared to death of drugs and alcohol. All they talk about is this fear and never really move to any solution other than come back to class. Once you quit class you'll relapse and begin using again. I haven't been to class in nearly six weeks and I'm playing one hell of a game to chess. Not to mention I now teach guitar to a group of eight prisoners who are learning to play an instrument for the first time in their life. We sit around and laugh, learn and find peace in music.
Now that's being rehabilitated. We don't talk about drugs and fears in music class. We overcome all the negativity by not focusing on it, but rather putting our focus on freedom through music. For this very reason the music program has been titled The Freedom Music Program. The beauty of this project is not just the music for me, but the chance to truly change my life. To walk away with a sense of accomplishment after I have taught someone how to free their mind. What I found is a different way to change my life and rehabilitate myself.
When I see these men pick up their guitar, I see a smile stretch across their face as well. I'm reminded of the first time I sat in the music program and picked up a guitar and made music. Most prisons do not offer a music program. I spend five years in Department of Corrections before I made it to this prison where they have music. Even then, they nearly closed the program just a few months ago. What a blessing that God had different plans.
The recidivism numbers are what they are because Florida prisons have removed most of their programs designed to help inmates. You can teach a man to build a cabinet, repair an A.C. unit and treat waste-water.....but if he still has anger issues and institutional mental setbacks, he'll probably re-offend and be sent back. Look at the percentage of recidivism.
Now put a little music in that man's life...let him find some peace while he's out there struggling at his 9 to 5 and see how that mix works. I mean why not try something new? What they're doing now isn't working out. During the six some year I've been incarcerated, I can't count how many people I have seen leave and go home. Only to come back a year later.
I don't want to be that guy. Right now I'm finding a reward by teaching music. I'm finding peace through giving my knowledge of music to another man and helping him find his very own peace. It truly is better to give than to receive. I believe in music and given a chance I believe music will prove itself valuable to the rehabilitation of prisoners. I know what it's done for me.
Who cares if the glass is half empty or half full....drink it up! Hello to 2014. Hello to life. One year less here in this prison.
Everyone looks back, the year-in-review and takes some sort of tally. When I look back over my 2013, I'm seeing some wonderful stuff that took place. My institution locked me up for the Jailbird blog. I was quickly released and changed housing to a better dorm than I was prior. So that worked out nice. Next, they tried to pass a revision to the rule book, or Chapter 33 as they call it. The rule proposal would make inmates directly or indirectly involved with media such as e-mail, blogs or Facebook a violation. Both the ACLU and the Florida Civil Liberties board came to our defense and made Tallahassee terminate this proposed rule change. Since it is unconstitutional and even prisoners have rights to free speech. Even through blogs and Facebook. Another big victory for the men in blue.
I have noticed personal changes. My ability to roll with things and see the good, even in really shitty people. Perhaps your glass truly is completely empty. I still try to see something in there. May not be much, but thank God for happy hour!! Drinks are on me!
I look at my mother. The absolute peace she has. I want to know that peace. She raised me telling me it's the peace of God. His peace passes all understanding. There are many things I don't fully understand, yet I still find peace in that. So perhaps I too have found His peace.
I spoke to an officer the other day. After we spoke for a few moments he asked if I was a Godly man. I don't think anyone has ever asked me such a question, and definitely not in my current situation. My reply to him was that I am a man always seeking to be better. I saw a sincere smile stretch across the officers entire face. For a moment we were just two men having an in-depth conversation. I walked away impacted by our conversation and looking back I believe he did too.
That's how I closed out my 2013. I'm not a man for new year resolutions.....rather if my life needs to change, I'm going to do it today. Resolutions are like saying "sure, I know the car needs new tires and a brake job, but let's wait until January 1st to do it!!" It's just silly people.
If you consider the resolution, it's obviously something you truly need. But!! If your going to wait until net year to do it? Chances are you'll never get around to it. I'm able to look back over my past year and see accomplished resolutions because I handled that shit the very day I felt I needed to change. And that's how I can look at my sergeant and mean it when I say...."I'm a man seeking to be better."
You may not agree with me and see things the way I do, but if you stick around long enough I'll give you something to think about. If nothing more, be blessed at least that one prisoner truly is trying to be released as a productive member of society.
On the 8th day of Christmas my true love gave to me....a pep talk and the 10 commandments. I've overheard women plenty of times discussing how after their marriage their man changed. The other percentage of women thought they would change their man.
Check out the stats on divorce and you'll know how that's been working out.
I just figure the best approach is honesty. Throw it all out there right up front. Then make sure both parties agree. So I've been doing just that with my lady. And she's been countering...I'm not sure there's much give and take when it come to her. I have pitched my tent for most of my life in the "grey area".....my lady took my tent down and put it up someplace else.
I'm still trying to find it. Or is that the tent over yonder with a welcome mat and pink lace curtains?
How do you women do that anyways? Before long, your hair tie is on the car shifter and there's a box of Tampax under the sink.
You ladies mark your territory better than Fido and he's cocked his leg on every mailbox in sight. You smile at us and say we're cute even when you know we're pissed and ready to kill. You change the radio station and adjust the seat and mirrors to fit you. In the present circumstance my lady asks me to wake up early on my day off and stand in the phone line to tell you good morning.
And the funny thing is, I do it. For most of my life my momma tried and tried to save me. God bless her for the heart and the will to never give up. She blessed me with the same will and I've been raisin' hell for many years.
Now, I'm standing in a phone line on a Saturday at 7:30 a.m. My lady, my mother and my daughter have somehow managed to finally reach me. I've seen plenty of married men slip and stray from their family. I pity the fool who thinks a bachelor pad is heaven on earth.
You can't replace a home-cooked meal, a clean house and a pussy beside you every night. I know....you were really getting into this mushy stuff and had a big smile. Just remember there will always be a set of nuts between these legs. My lady may wear the pants, but I still have these nuts.