Besides me, who does that?
Want to hear something funny? Last night in my dream, I was singing the Smokey & the Bandit song. I mean, I was really belting it out as if it was one of today's hot hits, instead of a corny song from about thirty years ago.
Besides me, who does that?
I stayed up late again last night. After watching the season finale of Tyrant on FX I returned to my reading for TUMI. Read pages 96-109 of Elders & Leaders, then read the first chapter of The Heroic Venture by Don Allsman. I've read a lot about heroic journeys so the title already had my attention.
The book is a fast read, so I kept turning pages. I got through the first chapter, then noticed the Questions for Discussion at the end of the chapter. I must be a nerd because I enjoyed the questions. They helped me put some of the jewels I had read in the chapter into the context of my own life. Because I want to be better, to give service that leaves an impact, questions that help me contextualize what I learn are like valued jewels. When I come across them, I get amped. Today I will knock a big chunk out of this book. Someday I'll have to thank Don Allsman in person for writing it.
I woke up this morning thinking about the stupid decisions I made twenty-one years ago that brought me here. I wish I could take it all back.
Got a care package today! We're allowed to get one per quarter. This one came just in time because I was running low on provisions. For example, my toothpaste would have only lasted two more weeks. Now I'm good.
My good friend Joshua went out on a family visit today. He is not serving a life sentence so he is eligible to receive them. His mom, little sister, and 16-month-old son are visiting him.
Joshua talks about them all the time, with me. We were co-workers for some months and that brought us close. I am so happy for him right now. He'll get to be with his little boy for 72 hours straight. That's awesome.
And when he comes back, he'll find out he got accepted into TUMI. That's awesome too!
We have to focus on the awesome things— the things that mark our progress, make us strong, and keep us motivated.
This morning I ran four miles and played a game of Scrabble. After the midday count cleared, I went to the Catholic chapel. Every Saturday afternoon at that time they show a movie. This week the movie was "Heaven is for Real." It was a cute movie.
After dinner, I attended my regular meeting for TUMI. Today they have us the books for the next module so we could start reading.
Learned a lot from my computer class this week. I took my IC3 exam on Monday and passed it. The next exam I'm studying for is to be a Microsoft Word Specialist. My goal is to earn that certificate and learn as much as I can before (cross my fingers!) I get pulled away to start the training for the Inmate Mentor Certification Program. I don't take for granted that I will be selected, but I really hope that I am.
Today I started reading Adult Children of Abusive Parents, by Steve Farmer. It's a powerful book. In the first chapter Farmer quotes Charles Whitfield, who estimated that 80%-95% of adults "did not receive the love, guidance, and other nurturing necessary to form consistently healthy relationships, and feel good about themselves and what they do."
There is a whole lot in this book I'd like to share and quote. It has broadened my understanding of what constitutes emotional abuse. The title is deceptive because it speaks of a lot of harm that is not necessarily inflicted by parents themselves.
Part of the reason I'm reading this book is for a presentation I'm giving on Monday (August 18th). This book is the source material for a workshop I'll be co-facilitating on that day.
Today was terrible. I woke up anxious to go to my computer class so I could master the intricacies of MSWord, but the teacher didn't show up. You're thinking, "No problem, you had a day off from school," but that's not how the day turned out.
I went back to my cell and started writing a letter. Twenty minutes into my letter-writing, the goon squad (prison gestapo-type unit) enter the housing unit and kick everybody out. They were doing their job and they had good reason because some inmate had done something real stupid which warranted a surprise visit, but it was a real inconvenience to me— at the time, I was not fully dressed.
Typically when I'm writing letters I am laying on my stomach on my bunk, wearing comfortable shorts, no shoes, no socks. When I'm in the cell I generally walk around in flip-flops.
I looked up from my letter and saw the face of an officer looking back at me through my celldoor window. My instinct was to be cordial. I jumped down from my bunk, slipped on my flip-flops and asked how I could be of help.
The officer told me to open the door and step outside. As I opened the door, she was telling me to go to the prison yard; with the door wide open, I paused and asked if I could put on a shirt and some shoes. She said "No, what you have on is good enough."
I gave her a shocked look. The prison yard is no place to be walking around in flip flops, but I knew not to argue with the gestapo.
I walked down the stairs and out the building and looked at my watch. The time was 9:10am. I saw everyone on the yard was sitting down, per orders, and twenty men were being searched. After the officers methodically searched all the men on the yard, more officers came and they searched all of the cells. It took them five hours.
While we waited for them to finish their sweep, they had us sitting on the ground in the middle of the yard. When we finally did return to the building, we saw just how bad our cells had been ransacked. Mine wasn't ransacked badly, because I'm not a "hot boy."
I put my few things in order, made up my bunk again, and took a sponge bath so I could lay down. I felt physically drained from sitting out in the yard all day in the hot sun. What a terrible "day off from school." I didn't get anything done.
After dinner, the program returned to normal. I went to the Protestant chapel and attended Pastor Dennis Fogel's service. On the way out I spoke with a friend named Mike, an inmate from Pasadena. Mike had also submitted an application to get into the Offender Mentor Certification Program. He told me that one of the instructors said that all of our applications had been faxed to Sacramento for review. I'm anxious for more news because I really pray that I get in.
I can't believe two beloved Hollywood stars died today... Robin Williams, and Lauren Bacall.
I first became a fan of Robin when he played Mork, the alien on Mork & Mindy.
I was a kid back then. If you had asked me who my favorite comedian was, back then, it would have been either Mork, or Jack Tripper (John Ritter) on Three's Company. Later I saw Robin play great roles in movies like Good Morning Vietnam and Good Will Hunting. He was a genius. Never knew he was a tortured soul too. Wish I knew more about his life. I'm sure there are lessons in it...
I didn't know Lauren Bacall's work quite as well, but I was impressed with her role in Casablanca. I'm sure I saw her in some of the great supporting roles she had later in her career, but the names of those films seem to escape me right now. What sticks with me is that she always appeared as a Lady.
Paul Pommells has been an inmate of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for more than twenty years, and has learned much about himself, his fellow inmates, and where one can find the hope and power to change.
Paul and other inmates & friends bare their souls in words here.