Prisoners are persons whom most of us would rather not think about. Banished from everyday sight, they exist in a shadow world that only dimly enters our awareness. They are members of a "total institution" that controls their daily existence in a way that few of us can imagine. "[P]rison is a complex of physical arrangements and of measures, all wholly governmental, all wholly performed by agents of government, which determine the total existence of certain human beings (except perhaps in the realm of the spirit, and inevitably there as well) from sundown to sundown, sleeping, walking, speaking, silent, working, playing, viewing, eating, voiding, reading, alone, with others. . . ." It is thus easy to think of prisoners as members of a separate netherworld, driven by its own demands, ordered by its own customs, ruled by those whose claim to power rests on raw necessity. -- Justice William Brennan, dissenting in O’Lone v. Estate of Shabazz, 482 U.S. 342, 354-55 (1987).

Friday, March 30, 2007

Time to Enter the Rabbit Hole

In the 20 months since the FBI raided my home in July, 2005, I have had difficulty sleeping probably less than 20 days. Part of the reason is that I seem to have mastered the art of conscious denial (which is totally different than the much more dangerous unconscious denial). A counselor once told me that I am like the guy who jumps out of a tall building and, as he plummets to the ground, keeps telling himself "So far so good." Talk about staying in the moment!! Of course, the counselor did not intend this as a compliment at the time, but as a warning, which I needed. However, over time, I have tried to turn this darker tendency into something more functional.

I have worked so hard on my attitude to reframe my experiences, determined to live my life as fully as I can, even when faced with difficulty. I have never taken any medication for depression or sleep during this entire episode although I could certainly understand, and would not judge, another doing so. I guess I prefer to take my stress "straight up," if at all possible :)

Certainly the days leading up to sentencing on February 13, 2007 were difficult, but I have slept normally since then

...until the last few nights.

I generally get to sleep fine but then wake up early and have difficulty getting back to sleep.

Last night I could feel my heart racing a little more than normal. The adrenaline is starting to kick in.

Anway, I am up now. This is the plan:

I am wearing old blue jeans with a big hole in the left knee, a pair of old loafers I forgot I had, old underwear, and an old yellow polo shirt that looks like the color of a newspaper left on the dashboard for a week in the sun. I decided I didn't want the BOP to send my clothes back to my wife; they can just toss them.

I am having a little Kashi GoLean for breakfast (dry, no milk), although I am not particularly hungry (a sure sign of stress for me).

We will leave here in about 30 minutes to go to the airport, where I will catch a flight to Pensacola that I hope and pray is on time (pleeeease, USAir, don't mess with me, not today!). I will arrive in Pensacola around 10:30a and probably get a last bite to eat of "good" food, although you know things are going downhill fast when you start talking about airport food as "good." I will then step out of the airport and take a cab straight to the prison which is maybe 10 miles away.

What am I bringing?

1. Boarding pass I printed out from USAir Website last night (actually, at 2:30a when I woke up this morning!).
2. Sheet of paper with my list of people whom I can call or have visit me.
3. Directions and a map from MapQuest just in case the cabbie doesn't know how to get to the prison from the airport.
4. Latest issue of Sports Illustrated to read in the airport and on the plane. Cover story is Tiger 2.0 (I read anything I can get my hands on about Tiger).
5. A little over $1000 in cash to place in my commissary account. I was told I can spend $290/mo plus cost of phone calls. I also need to buy some food in the aiport and pay the cabbie.
6. My driver's license for ID at the airport -- don't know what the BOP will do with it.
7. Reading glasses.
8. My wedding band. A friend recommended I not bring any jewelry but Amanda insisted I bring it. It has probably left my hand for less than 5 minutes in 12 years. She wants me to take it off occasionally and read the inscription on the inside: "Your faithful heart" - the title of a Beth Nielsen Chapman song sung at our wedding:



Faithful heart
What more can one life ask
One hand to hold along life's path
Share with me this vow
And for all time
Our souls will be entwined
I give this love, I live this love
No greater joy is mine
Storms will come, but we will never part
For each of us bequeath a faithful heart
I give this love, I live this love
No greater joy is mine
Storms will come, but we will never part
For each of us bequeath a faithful heart

I promise I will dear.

PS - This will be my last blog entry for a while. From now until I return, I will have to write on paper (what is that?) and snailmail it to Amanda to post, which will of course delay the postings. There is so much more I want to write about before I leave, but time is up.

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R. Smith said...
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