08 June 07

Shane Arrives at Yard 1

“I think I’m gonna die,” Shane said. “My heart’s beatin’ like crazy after pushin’ that cart fulla crap from Yard 4 to here.”
“Well,” I said, “you’re here now. Minimum. Your last stop before freedom. How short are you?”
“Four years. I get out in 2012…probably…like April, I think. If my federal appeal goes through I could be out in 2010.”
“So the Value Options case was dismissed?”
“Yeah, but I’m appealing it.”
“Are you suing anybody else?”
“Yeah, DOC and all of their medical people, over my hep C suit.”
“But they are treating you now?”
“I’m takin’ the medication. They started it about nine months after I began suing them.”
“What’s the meds?”
Shane pulled out a bag full of pills. “The main one is the Ribavirin capsules, and I’m takin’ a shot of peginterferon alfa-2a once a week every Friday. Also, they’re givin’ me vitamin K for my low blood cells.”
“How long’s the treatment?”
“Forty-eight weeks.”
“Will the hep C be completely cured by then?”
“Probably. There’s an eighty-percent chance. But right now the doctor’s tellin’ me I’ve got low red and white blood cells, and low platelets.”
“What exactly does that mean?”
“It means I’m dying.” He laughed. “They’re killin’ me with their meds. It means don’t touch me, I might bleed out.”
“What does it really mean?”
“I’m anaemic.”
“You are starting to look like a proper pasty Englishman.”
Orroight, mate,” he said with a grin.
“What psych meds are you on these days?”
“Just lithium. They asked me if I wanted to stop the lithium and I told them, ‘When I feel like being crazy again and hurtin’ myself I’ll let you know.’”
“Have you had any more spontaneous ejaculations since they guinea-pigged you on that other psychotropic med?”
“You mean Desipramine – no. The only side effect I’ve got now is I’m blind when I go out in the sun. I’m getting special glasses.”
“Sun City specials?”
“No. They’re the Chomo 2000s. I’m gettin’ the ones that turn dark in the sunlight and go back to normal in the shade. I’ll look all gangsterish when they get dark.”
“I can’t imagine you all G’d out. Are you staying focussed?”
“Not until I get my glasses?”
We laughed.
“Are you staying focussed on life, are you keeping your head together?”
“Yeah. I’m in college takin’ environmental tech. I now realise how easy it is to be an ecoterrorist. Anybody can put somethin’ in the water supply 'cause water-treatment-plant operators don’t go through background checks or anythin’. I finished the Men in Recovery classes and all the other classes they have here. I entered the Writers Digest contest this year. I’ve got people visitin’ me. I’ve got a Write A Prisoner ad up that’s received one response in five months.” He laughed. “And here I am at minimum security. Clearly I’m stayin’ outta trouble 'cause this is the lowest I’ve ever been.”
“Let’s hope you stay outta trouble.”
“Whatta you tryin’ to say? You plottin’ on me? I ain’t had my pysch meds tonight yet.”

Jon tells us what he has learned about himself during his incarceration.

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Copyright © 2006-2007 Shaun P. Attwood
05 June 07

Psychotherapy with Dr. T. (Part 3)

“How are you doing?” Dr. T. asked.
“Much better than last time,” I said. “I realise how silly I must have sounded worrying that I’d never get out. I think what happened was this year began and I spent months in a state of euphoria telling myself that this is the year I get out. Then from that state of happiness there was a backlash, and I spent several weeks fully convinced I was never getting out. I’m over that and I can feel the euphoria building again.”
“When are you getting out?”
“I’m eligible to be released to Immigration in November.”
“But it usually takes a few weeks for them to pick you up.”
“Yes. And then I’ll be processed at Florence. But according to the British Consulate, if I have a passport, that should only take a few weeks, so I’m hoping to be home by Christmas. If you get a HNR from me in January then you’ll know we’ve got problems.”
“So are you ticking things off a list of things you need to do?”
“I’m beyond ticking. The things have been ticked, and worked to death. I think my stressed-out-about-never-getting-released phase was productive in a sense that I kicked and screamed to my parents, my attorney, and CO3 Rose so much that everyone is now doing as much as they can to ensure that my release is processed. We’re getting regular emails from my attorney updating the status of the proceedings for my deportation order.”
“So if you expect to be home by Christmas where will you be living?”
I laughed, and said, “It’s kind of funny actually. It’s become a joke among my family and friends that I’m going to be living in my parents’ garage and they’re going to be feeding me orange trays through the cat flap.”
Dr. T. laughed, and said, “What are you going to do when you get out?”
“My goal is to be back in a university some time in 2008. I aim to do a creative-writing master’s, and a senior academic at a university in England has asked me to consider going to his college. He also pointed out that if I went there a certain best-selling author would confer my degree.”
“So you wouldn’t be living with your parents then?”
“No. That university has living quarters for its senior students.”
“And how are you going to afford all of this?”
“That’s the only thing holding me back at this stage. The State seized all of my assets, so -”
“Why did they do that?”
“To offset some of the costs of my case, I believe. They said it was in lieu of racketeering proceeds that they couldn’t prove or find. Anyway, I can’t fall back on my parents because I owe them a fortune for my legal bill. So, I’m making inquiries as to scholarships and loans available to someone in my position. Prisoners Abroad have provided some useful info, and I’ve written to them with more questions.”
“So how are things on the yard?”
“Everything is going great. I’m doing college classes through Rio Salado. I just finished a philosophy course, and really hit it off with my teacher. My heart and soul are demanding that I take a shot at a career as a writer, and as I’ve only got a few months to go, I’m making a final push in that direction. I’ve submitted some short stories to magazines. I’m reading books on writing, and tearing through the classics. I can feel changes coming on in my prose. I believe that all this effort now will help me succeed when I get out. I have manic energy that I’m focusing right now. I think that being bipolar can be an asset for a writer.”
“Not if you’re suffering delusions of grandeur of being the next Shakespeare, and all you are writing is gibberish.”
“Believe me, I’ve written my fair share of gibberish, and gone through some peculiar phases which I’m embarrassed about - I can’t wait to re-write that stuff. But there have been some gems among the rubbish. It’s a question of culling the gems. And look at all of the legendary bipolar writers and poets: they range from Virginia Woolf to Lord Byron. I’m not so delusional I’d place myself in their league, but if I didn’t have this manic energy I couldn’t sit and write for twelve hours feeling on top of the world, not wanting to take a break for a shower or to go to chow.”
“So you are familiar with the diagnostic criteria for bipolar.”
“I’ve read books on it.”
“You do get talking very fast. Do you have racing thoughts?”
“Do they prevent sleep?”
“Yes. They can keep me up for hours at nights, but I do eventually get to sleep.”
“You’ve mentioned times during your life when you have contemplated suicide, and you’ve mentioned times when you’re on top of the world. So you do seem to experience the bipolar extremes.”
“I spend most of the time happy hypomanic though.”
“And doesn’t it feel great?”
“That’s why a lot of people with bipolar disorder don’t want to take meds. They want that high.” “And I’m certainly one of them. My dad asked me if I had a choice not to be bipolar would I take it. I told him I would stay as I am even though it may have contributed to my propensity for doing drugs and partying. Being bipolar gave me the energy to succeed at many things including stockbroking and stock trading.”
“Do you think stockbroking contributed to you breaking the law?”
“I think I was attracted to investments due to my risk-taking nature, and that same character trait certainly contributed to me breaking the law.”
“What about the office environment you worked in?”
“I went from being a university graduate in England to working in an office full of feisty New York Italians – some of whom liked their cocaine and strippers.”
“It may be a stereotype, but when I imagine stockbrokers I see coke-snorting macho types.”
“Yeah, it was quite an experience, but that was nothing compared to the levels of drug consumption among my friends and I in the rave scene. That’s what pushed me over the edge. And I’m not going back to that. I’m determined to succeed in literature and to get back to trading my own account, neither of which I’ll accomplish if I cloud my mind. To me prison has been a necessary step to grow out of those old ways. I can’t imagine who I would be without all of this personal development. It’s been such a good thing. The main downside has been the effect on my family, and that pain has motivated me to make amends. My sister asked me if I had just intellectualised to mollify my parents – which kind of hurt – and I tried to explain to her the ongoing development of my new self, and the continuous shedding of skin that’s occurred as I’ve attempted to transcend this punishment.”
“How is your sister?”
“She’s doing phenomenally well. She’s about to get married. Her and her fiancĂ© recently bought a place in London where they both have high-powered jobs. In the eyes of my parents, I see her behaviour as compensating for my misbehaviour. She’s doing us proud.”
“It’s great that you seem to be so happy today.”
“Thanks. I’ve a lot to look forward to.”
“Are you sad about leaving America?”
“There are some people here who I’m going to be sad to leave. But I broke the law and its part of my punishment isn’t it? America was good to me. I prospered, thought I was invincible, and overstepped myself. Maybe I can arrange to come back legally some day. If not – oh well – there’s plenty of the world I haven’t seen. The East is booming, and I have some ideas in my mind that I could put into place there. I enjoy the challenge of fighting the odds, of building things up. If I can do well in prison I should be able to thrive anywhere.
As funny as living in my parents’ garage sounds, being reduced to rock bottom has put me in my element. I can’t wait to get to work on my comeback. That seems to be the way I’m hard-wired.”
“So no more worrying about not getting out eh?”
“Definitely not. In my most recent Siddha Yoga lesson Gurumayi points out that if we were to view a videotape of our lives and see how much time we spend worrying over things that don’t materialize we’d be slapping our heads and wishing we could do it all over again.”

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Copyright © 2006-2007 Shaun P. Attwood
2 June 07

Mum’s Sixieth

Today is Mum’s birthday. She’s having a sixtieth party to celebrate. The guests are going to wear '60s style dress. There’s going to be a band playing '60s music. My sister and her friend are doing a cabaret act with an Austin Powers lookalike. I feel sad not being there, but I’m happy that my parents are able to celebrate after all they’ve been through.

Happy Sixtieth Mum


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Copyright © 2006-2007 Shaun P. Attwood
1st June 07

Kat (Part 3)

With long dark hair not lacking a Pantene shine, Kat sashayed into my cell and sat down.
“If you don’t mind me asking,” I said. “What are you in prison for?”
“An accident,” Kat said. “Two people had stalled at 7th Avenue and Dunlap. Instead of pushing their car off the road, they opened the hood and stood in front of the car. I came up right behind them and pushed the car over them. One died and one was seriously injured.”
“Wow! That’s awful. Was alcohol involved?”
“Yes. People had been buying me drinks at the bar. The bar was sued for serving me over the limit.”
“How much time did you get?”
“I signed a plea bargain for twelve years for vehicular manslaughter.”
“How much time do you have left to serve?”
“I get out in twenty-one months. This was never a part of my life plan. Who knew?”
“Taking someone’s life must have devastated you?”
“Yes. What happened will haunt me forever. It’s completely changed my life and the way I see the world. How a life can change overnight.”
Seeing the inner pain in Kat's eyes, I changed the subject.
“How come your skin looks so good? Do you have an exfoliation routine? Or use Jergens?”
“I put vitamin E on my face at night, and wash it off with Camay an hour later.”
“And your hair.”
“I just cut my hair. It’s dark auburn, two-tone.”
“Do you mind if I ask you some questions about prison sex?”
“No. Go ahead.”

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Copyright © 2006-2007 Shaun P. Attwood
30th May 2007

Buggering a Blackberry with a Harley Piston

Circulating on the yard – thanks to Red – was a message from Slope: “Someone needs ta tell the goddam Limey to bugger his blackberry with a Harley piston.” The affront motivated me to go down to Yard 4 to see Slope.
“What’s this about buggering my blackberry with a Harley piston?”
“I wuz just feelin’ all patriotic,"Slope said. Like bashin’ you tea-and-crumpet-eatin’ motherfuckers. What do you guys do with that spotted dick anyways? Eat it or give it a jigger in your palms?”
“I feel the love, Slope.”
“From America with love, goin’ out to all of the spotted-dick-eatin’-fuckin’ weirdoes in the world.”
“What’s up with the Harley piston?”
“Shove it up your ass.”
“Lube or no lube?”
“You guys are crazy enough. You don’t need no fuckin’ lube.”
“Crazy! We of the tea and crumpets are known for being reserved. Americans seem to be a little crazier.”
“If Americans are the crazy ones, why are y’all tryin’ to buy up our motorceeckles, and come over here and live?”
“ 'Cause craziness can be fun.”
“Try and spill some crazy gas on yer thigh, and tell me it’s fun.”
“What are you on about?”
“It’ll give ya a rash. I’ve gotta hand it to the goddam Limeys for the Vincent Black Shadow though – helluva motorceeckle. Held the motorceeckle-land-speed record for forty fuckin’ years.”
“How long have you been down, Slope?”
“Twenty-three years, five months, and nine days.”
“Are you getting short?”
“I got a parole board in eighteen months.”
“If you get parole, you can become the militia man of your dreams.”
“No, 'cause it seems the CIA has a bounty on them now.”
“You could be a domestic terrorist armed with a Harley piston.”
“No 'cause the Homeland Security folks has a bounty on those.”
“I’ve got it.”
“You can be an extra in movies like Deliverance.”

Coming soon: Slope threatens my 4th July meal.

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Copyright © 2006-2007 Shaun P. Attwood

28 May 07

Bon Voyage Balls (Part 2)

I'd heard of transsexuals in prison cutting off their own testes. And today I finally met one of them: Gina, who Xena told us about in Bon Voyage Balls. Gina looks like a woman. He has long black hair down to his waist, black eyeliner tattooed around brown eyes, a beauty mark like Marilyn Monroe’s, B-cup breasts (which may be about to increase in size pending oestrogen therapy), a twenty-six-inch waist, and long nails.

“England,” BHF said, “Meet Gina.”
“The famous Gina!” I said. “Well how do you do?”
“Very well,” Gina said in a convincing female voice. “I need to tell you I’m an Anglophile.”
“So you like all things English.”
“Yes. And your accent is making me feel like I’m talking to G3 in his coronation robes.”
“The pleasure is mutual. You’re quite the legend. Can I ask how you became an Anglophile?”
“Yes. It started with the connection I feel we Yanks have with you across the pond. My history lessons as a child were my first exposure to British royalty. When I first saw a drawing of George the Third in his coronation garb, I was hooked. The crown, the robe - ohh la la!” Gina rolled his eyes.“I knew I was an Anglo at heart, and tracing my family tree revealed that England is the home of my ancestors. Another exposure was when they taught us about the colonies and independence. From the start I’ve loved America, but it’s England that I fell in love with.”
“Back to your story that Xena helped me blog: some of the readers doubted that you did what you did. And I hope you don’t mind me asking, but what motivated you to cut off your balls?”

…to be continued

I’m hoping that readers – especially those who doubted Gina’s story – will post some questions and comments for Gina.

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Copyright © 2006-2007 Shaun P. Attwood
26 May 07

Two Tonys on the Philosophy of Simone de Beauvoir

“Whattaya readin’?” Two Tonys asked.
The Ethics of Ambiguity,” I said, “by Simone de Beauvoir.”
“Whothafuck's she?”
“She was an author and feminist existentialist philosopher. Her and Jean-Paul Sartre had an open relationship. When nihilists claimed life is meaningless, de Beauvoir responded that it is up to us to put meaning into our lives. I like that idea. It puts the meaning of my life in my hands. She also wrote The Second Sex.”
“Of course we hafta put meanin’ into our own fuckin’ lives, 'cause each and every one of us values different things. What is important to you isn’t important and meaningful to an ant. Findin’ a grasshopper’s leg and draggin’ it down a hole in the ground may be meaningful to an ant. Winnin’ an Academy Award may be meaningful to Dustin Hoffman. And I’m fuckin’ sure that developin’ the polio vaccine put meanin’ in Salk’s life."
“That’s exactly right. Just like talking to you and writing up blogs are ways I put meaning into my life. De Beauvoir had some other interesting ideas and quotes I’d like to run by you.”
“She wrote about women who mindlessly adopt the opinions and values of their husbands.”
“For thousands of years women were treated as fuckin’ prisoners. It’s thanks to women’s lib that durin’ the past two-hundred years women have been encouraged to think for themselves. All of the major religions – Christianity, Islam, and the Jews – claim God is a man, recruit men to be their top dogs, and have treated women as second-class citizens or worse for centuries.”
“Saint Ambrose claimed it was the feminine instability of Eve that caused Adam to sin,” I said. “And one of the Pope Leo's said the husband is the head of the wife who by nature is fitted for housework.”
“It’s been the same on all continents. The bottom line is: we’ve all gotta think for our fuckin’ selves. Look at how many dumb motherfuckin’ men there are in this world.”
“De Beavoir also claimed that ignorance and error are facts as inescapable as prison walls.”
“Ignorance and error are different from plain dumbness. The fucks who voted for Bush are plain dumb. But who hasn’t made mistakes? Have you ever been ignorant?”
“Yeah,” I said.
“Has your dad at some point in his life been ignorant?”
“Exactly. My point is: we all get a little ignorant from time to time.”
“What do you think about de Beauvoir writing that life imprisonment is the most horrible of punishments because it preserves your existence while preventing you from doing what you’d most like to be doing?”
“De Beauvoir is fulla shit on that one. What about the motherfucker workin’ for Intel in his cubicle? How’s life imprisonment worse than bein’ a corporate fuckin’ slave? So what if he gets a lunch break. He’s gotta punch in again at 12:30. So what if he gets to check out the women in business suits kickin’ it at Starbucks drinkin’ their frappuccinos. He’s still just a fuckin’ slave like I am. Instead of whippin’ him, they dangle him stock options. He’s fuckin’ his life off for the benefit of corporate slave drivers. It boils down to different degrees of slavehood, and there’s motherfuckers on the outs whose minds put them through worse punishments than imprisonment – that’s inner slavery.”
“She wrote that if your future is blocked off you can revolt and reject it via suicide.”
“When you’ve been locked up for most of your life, you learn that you hafta adapt. Who do you think lasted the longest in concentration camps?”
“People who put meaning in their lives, like Viktor Frankl.”
“Exactly. The ones who survived had adapted. Didn’t you say that de Beauvior encouraged people to put meanin’ in their lives?”
“But now she’s sayin' if the shit hits the fan commit suicide?”
“Yes. Are you saying her theory is flawed?”
“I’m just wonderin’ where she’s comin’ from?”
“The way I read it, she meant that suicide is a choice that puts you back in control of the situation.”
“That makes sense.”
“The question of suicide seemed to weigh heavily on the minds of the French existentialists. Camus said the most import question was whether to commit suicide or not.”
“And the Schop said death is what makes most motherfuckers philosophise in the first place."
“Good point.”

“Death is the true inspiring genius, or the muse of philosophy…. Indeed, without death man would scarcely philosophise.” – Arthur Schopenhauer The World as Will and Idea: (1819)

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Copyright © 2006-2007 Shaun P. Attwood

23 May 07


5:10 pm The prison is locked-down. The power has been off all day due to repair work. The temperature is in the eighties and the swamp coolers are off, so we’re lounging around our cells wearing next to nothing. Prisoners are restless because their TVs aren't working. Some are listening to Walkmans. Others are talking through their windows.
“I’m about to get butt-ass naked in this motherfucker.”
“Let’s see ya naked, boyyyy.”
“They sure as shit ain’t lettin’ us out – motherfuckers.”
"The motherfuckers are lyin’ to us, dawg. The electricity is on in the store.”
“Nah, dawg. My fan ain’t on.”
“The motherfuckin’ po-lice said theyz changin’ a generator.”
“That don’t take all motherfuckin’ day, dawg.”
“Whatchu doin’, dawg?”
“Readin’ all motherfuckin’ day, when I should be writin’ letters.”
“I am sooo very gay,” Black Nine said.
“Suck my cock.”
“He needs a dick su-cker…a dick su-cker…”
Now they’re all singing, “…a dick su-cker…a dick su-cker…a dick su-cker…”
The only other sounds are birds chirping. Pigeons cooing. The wind spitting dust at my window. And a staccato of metallic coughs from a walkie-talkie heading this way.

With the kitchen being closed, breakfast was a cheese sandwich, and so was lunch. For dinner I’m expecting a cheese sandwich. Cheese-sandwich days like these make me dream of being home, making up for all of the curries I’ve missed over the years.

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Copyright © 2006-2007 Shaun P. Attwood
19th May

Reversing on a Slope

Seeing Slope I began to sing, “Yankee Doodle Dandy –"
“Stuck a feather,” Slope sang, “in his butt and called it macaroni.”
“That’s bloody rubbish,” I said.
“Bloody rubbish!” Slope said. “That’s a used tampon.”
“Jon’s lookin’ for somethin’ more inspirational,” Red said.
“If he puts a finger in his butt, that’ll inspire him,” Slope said.
“You’re sure fixated on sticking things in butts this fine morning, Slope,” I said.
“When you get fucked so many times, you wanna fuck someone else,” Slope said. “The English know all about that – the sneaky bastards.”
“You sneaked up via New Orleans. Goddam frickin’ shifty Limey characters.”
“Shifty!” I said. “Us Brits are well-mannered and honest.”
Slope eyes narrowed with disbelief.
“Slope’s givin’ you the stink eye,” Red said.
“Like that, Slope?”
“Are you sayin’ the history books wuz wrong,” Slope said. “Puh-leeze.”
“How’s Xena doing?” I asked.
“Why?” Slope said. “Are you tryin to smack that brown Cheerio?”
“You’ve got to remember,” Red said, “cheerio means somethin’ else in England. Cheerio, old boy, I’ll see you for high tea at Harrods.”
“Jon ain’t doin’ no high tea at goddam Harrods.” Slope said. “He was too busy eatin’ Ecstacy and scratchin’ his balls all night.”
“We didn’t scratch our balls.” I said. “We did silly things with Vick’s Inhalers.”
“Didn’t you Limeys start all that rave shit out here? Doin’ the E thang, man. I’ve only seen that shit on TV. MDMA. But I do know a little bit about the chemical composition at the molecular level. Gotta love American chemists,” Slope said. “How d’yuh think them GIs marched across Europe in the middle of winter? Spun outta their minds they wuz on good dope. Government speed. Nonna that made-outta-sinus-pill shit.”
“You ever use lube, Slope?”
“Hell yeah! How d-yuh Limeys keep friction down in yer motorceeckles?”
“How about water-based lube? Do you prefer that?”
“Well in your machine shops - “
I couldn’t contain my laughter when Xena arrived. Xena, who had heard the lube questions, laughed too.
Grrrrr!” Slope said. “The goddam Limey’s askin’ lube questions, and I’m figurin he’s talkin’ about greasin’ motorceeckles, when he’s reckonin’ on ridin’ the ass with it.”

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Copyright © 2006-2007 Shaun P. Attwood
16 May 07

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Copyright © 2006-2007 Shaun P. Attwood
14 May 07

Grit Goes Berserk and Gets Shot

Requiring Grit to attend a drug-infested halfway house in Sunnyslope does not appear to have helped him become a productive member of society.

The Arizona Republic reported Grit’s rampage:

Shoplifting suspect shot after stabbing 2 guards

A knife-wielding shoplifting suspect who stabbed two security guards was shot Friday noon by Phoenix police officers.
The shooting took place about 12.45 p.m. near the QuikTrip gasoline station and convenience store, 2850 W. Thunderbird Road in northwest Phoenix.
Police gave this account:
The suspect…was chased in a parking lot by two security guards at a Fry’s Electronics store after he stole unspecified merchandise.
The two guards were stabbed during a confrontation with the man.
The thief ran across Thunderbird Road and carjacked a van from a woman at a restaurant, then rammed a police patrol car driven by a Phoenix police sergeant.
[He] got out of the van and was confronted by two other police officers. He lunged at one of the officers with a knife and was shot in the shoulder by the other officer, police said.

After committing two stabbings, a carjacking, and attempting to stab a police officer, it’s likely that Grit will spend the rest of his life in prison. Or as Two Tonys put it: “Grit’s done, bro, put a fork in him.”

Is the system that forced Grit into the halfway house at fault or must Grit ultimately accept responsibility for his actions?

Iron Man talks about weightlifting in prison

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Copyright © 2006-2007 Shaun P. Attwood

11 May 07

Six Months To Go

A number of people have asked for my thoughts and feelings now that I have six months left to serve at Tucson prison.

For the past five years I've been conditioned to try to make the most of each day and to deal with challenges as they arise. I became more forward focussed when this year began, and now I’m increasingly wondering what my life will be like when I’m free. Thoughts of freedom mostly make me happy. Regarding my worries, I tell myself that prison has given me a skill set with which I can overcome whatever obstacles present themselves.

I’m chiefly concerned about not being a burden to my parents. Living in their garage, I expect I’ll be a financial burden. I tell myself that I’m a natural money maker – but there’s always nagging doubts that arise between my delusions of grandeur.

Then there are the effects of my behaviour on my parents’ mental health. My sister recently sent me some printouts of my Mum’s blog. Reading them made me feel ill – and deservedly so – as I was reminded how the negative effects of my behaviour continue to affect Mum’s life. Since my arrest, she has been on and off psychiatric medication and she is now in therapy. Recently she sent me a letter in which she disclosed she’d had some nightmares about me with drugged-up eyes. That really socked me in the gut. I wrote back saying that incarceration has knocked some common sense into me. It has matured me, and focussed my mind on a new life path that I won’t throw away by behaving idiotically. I’m driven to do well for their sakes and my own.

So what do I do for fun when I get out? Reading and writing are fun. Creativity and accomplishment are fun. Spending time with family and friends is fun. Dropping Es with friends and raving in the 90s was fun but I’ve grown out of that – finally. I’m too old now. And that doesn’t mean that I’m no longer in touch with my inner child. I’ll always have a mischievous side. Raves enabled me and my friends to rebel against society like the flower children of the sixties. I believe a more productive and mature way to express my rebellious nature is through writing. Exposing injustice, giving voices to the marginalized, developing and sharing a philosophy: these are some of the things I’m presently about.

Whatever is driving me to write is coming from deep inside. As if by fate I was provided with a platform with which to share not only my life experience, but also the experiences of others. Writing has consumed me, and I realise that the opportunity I have will be wasted if I choose to follow the same path that put me in prison.

Educationwise, I want to pursue creative writing. To that end I’m making a final push here by reading everything about writing I can get my hands on and forcing myself to read more classical literature. Thanks to literary journals, I’ve become a contemporary short-story junkie. I believe that style is inherent but it is important for a novice like me to learn what not to do. Visualising myself sat writing at a computer puts a smile on my face.

To those of you who want to know how it feels to be this close to the gate: I feel like a tiny tea-leaf that has been floating in a sink of water undisturbed for an inordinate length of time, and is now suddenly being sucked toward a drain leading to a new existence – an existence full of the kind of joy only available to those people who have lost and recovered their lives.

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