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COOPS Weekly - Life from Kansas #8

Updated: Jan 15

Huge Win - Scored a lower bunk

I got a lower bunk on Monday. Big win for the red guy. My bunkmate, who may be the nicest human being in the world, decided to leave the RDAP program and so his bunk became available. But he did not leave without trying his best to make sure I was taken care of. This story is 100% true. He came up to me and told me that a higher power instructed him that I should have the lower bunk. Hard to argue with a higher power. All need to understand however, that a reassigned bunk is a prerogative of the BOP. Me getting it was more complicated than the generosity of my bunkmate.


I moved to the lower bunk on Monday and got a SLIGHTLY bigger locker. While moving I learned there were bets in my unit about when I was going to fall off my bed. Ha, I did not fall...not yet. I have been talking in my sleep for over a month. WOW...I just apologize and try to stay up a bit longer than everyone. But what can you do? It’s been part of my withdrawing from the prescribed medicines that BOP will not provide. I have heard about people falling and I cannot imagine not being hurt significantly from the drop. The fall is about 6 feet and there is nothing below you but concrete and metal lockers. I wish I could take a picture of the bunks. I have no doubt everyone would be stunned that anyone’s body would fit on the bunk.


What is Popular on TV?


What TV show absolutely packs the mess hall every week? Picture over a 100 inmates all watching TV with headphones (all the TV stations are broadcast on radio frequencies so everybody walks around with headphones to listen to specific programs) ....The answer. YELLOWSTONE!!!


Every Sunday night. Its more popular than the chief’s game in Kansas.


Now that my head is back in the game...It was time to find a job. My first thought was to teach (GED classes). Just need one of the existing teachers to switch schedules.

What is the last possible subject you could imagine me teaching (because I openly detest this subject/ plus I’m terrible at it). Don’t say Geography although your close because I’m also bad with directions. If any of you truly know me this answer should be simple. Yes that’s right. .... MATH?? What? Luckily, I will move on to other subjects after a short time. But me teaching math is the Mount Everest of irony.


The best jobs are reserved for people with longer sentences so I don’t get my pick of subject. As most of you know I’m also and exceptional driver so I tried to get a job as the town car driver (drive the prison staff into town to run errands) but my record number of accidents may have hindered my attempts. Kidding, I am not here long enough to get the gig. It’s one of the most popular jobs...You get to eat out with staff, and you get bigtime privileges.


So this next part makes more sense, I write these newsletters throughout the week. Periodically updating them every day. The problem is things change daily. But I don’t want to skip parts of my story with everyone it’s to interesting. After all I have promised to do at least 40 of these newsletters so I need the content.


In preparation for my teaching gig, I went into the classroom to learn what I would be doing. NOBODY showed up. Not a single inmate. That’s not going to work. One of the things I promised myself was I would get as much out of this experience as could as possible. I am going to lean into this incarceration thing. I don’t want to just sit around in an empty classroom which some teachers do (they go take naps when nobody shows). I want to be busy. I want to improve on the areas I need improving.


So I said to myself, “self” what area do I need the most improvement on? What JOB would I feel least COMFORTABLE working? I will not be working in the classroom as this point (maybe later)... Instead, I will be working in the KITCHEN.


It’s the last place I would have picked so that where I’m going. I will be preparing and serving food. Luckily the food is terrible so I can’t possibly make it worse.


Things change daily. On Wednesday I learned my bunkmate (who I have spoken a great deal about to many of you), ran into some serious problems at the camp. I won’t get into the specifics here but something very serious went down and he is facing new potential charges from his actions. It’s a scary example of what happens in here with people who have problems and have been in prison for prolonged periods of time. He was scheduled to be released in a few months and now that is not going to happen. His situation has affected me deeply. We connected and he is an extremely caring person who is nice to everyone. He could not have been more supportive. Was he a strange guy who did some odd things? Absolutely...some of the stuff he did blew my mind...But again he was a good guy. Whatever he is going through I will be rooting for him and hope he gets out as soon as possible. I saw the impact prison had on him and it was hard to watch. People should not be incarcerated for decades. The damage it does is too great. He went in when he was 17. That is so young. Too young. All he knows is the prison life. I doubt I will ever see him again. Sad.


RDAP INFO / RDAP GRADUATION


Every day at the beginning of the RDAP morning meeting and then again at the close we say the RDAP creed. I thought it would be cool to share it. It goes as follows:

Today, I accept recovery as a lifelong process.

I control my thoughts and actions, and my willingness to participate in treatment will be key to my success.

I will examine myself honestly and strive to become caring in my relationships with others.

I am not alone and through the strength and support from others, I can succeed.

I possess the power to create my future as a sober, responsible, member of my community.

My future is not limited by my past.

Today, I accept recovery as a lifelong process.

It’s like AA (alcohol anonymous) creed which is the serenity prayer (for most places). I never thought much of AA, it is based too much on faith and following certain steps. I like the structure but not the particulars and the fact that it works for so many people, including some very close friends...However it was not my cup of tea and I struggled with it. RDAP is much more intense and based heavily on others helping with your recovery. It’s also very detail oriented and creative, analyzing the areas addiction affected you the most (and who it affected). There are plenty of things I don’t like about RDAP but overall, I know it will help me in ways I would have never imagined. I would love to see a program like RDAP out in the real world. It would be hard to imagine for anyone not in prison since it’s so time consuming. But ultimately...if you could work a program and it would help you conquer your addiction it would be worth it to devote the time. Even if it took nine months. Traditional rehab or medical rehab addresses the effects of addiction but not the cause. I strongly believe it is not something you can beat in a month or two. It takes time and lots of help. Help that is almost impossible for family or friends to commit to.

On Monday we had our first group of RDAP participants graduate. There were around 20 in total. We had a band and we celebrated in the gym. A guy from my unit sang. As I mentioned last newsletter any embarrassment, I used to get from certain activities is nonexistent now. Can you imagine 100+ inmates all sitting around watching a band in prison? Kind of awkward without any women present. Several participants gave very moving speeches and talked about what the program has done for them and their experiences with addiction. All of them stated unequivocally that RDAP changed their lives. Some of these guys are incredibly hard (and gigantic) and have stories that are almost impossible to comprehend. Tales of losing everything, including families, and loved ones because of their addiction. As I stated above its hard to hear these stories, but it certainly puts things in perspective. There was also a class speaker (Mr. Self) who gave an amazing speech on his life and how he has changed.

To close out the ceremony we were given cake. It almost seemed like a normal day. ALMOST...here is where you are reminded you are in prison. Cake was handed out in the form of a plastic bag like a twinkie or hostess cupcakes. The catch ... the cake was over two 1/2 months past its expiration date. I almost got one bite down before I was told how old it was. CMON??? Seriously!!! almost 3 months?


I miss everyone. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving



Weekly newsletter. week 8
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