Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Mail Call

Mail time in jail is similar to the old mail call scenes from the infamous war movies of the 1940’s and 50’s – it’s a time of great hope and anticipation – the inmates call it “getting love.”  So to all of you that have showed the love by writing and sending cards and/or letters…THANK YOU!!  Your words of encouragement and promises of prayer mean a lot!  You have no idea.

And to those of you who have commented on the blogs and/or sent emails or Facebook messages to Lump – thanks and appreciation to you as well.  It’s encouraging to know that our mess has blessed.


Ever wonder what inmates watch on TV?  Probably not, but I’ve come to find it quite interesting as well as amusing.  You’d be surprised to know that their choice of programming does not match the rough and ready to throw fists portrait depicted so often on the prison shows.  So to defuse the hardness of the hardened criminal bit, I thought I’d shed a little light on their “must see TV” choices.

Day time: Yes, you guessed it…you bet…Soap operas.  Like a housewife from the 1970’s, some of the guys never miss an episode of General Hospital or the likes thereof.  Oh too, to hear them chat it up about who did what to whom as well as talk about the characters as though they know them personally always brings a sly little grin to my face.

Additionally, a day wouldn’t be complete without them catching the latest skank and skanket on Tyra, Jerry or Maury.  Want to draw a crowd in jail?  Put on an episode of midget strippers or “who’s the daddy” and watch them flock to the tube.  It’s simply amazing.

Here’s one that will probably sock you – believe it or not, but Rachel Ray (no kin) is a favorite too.  Not that any of them do a lot of cooking.  Hmmm….let’s see…maybe it has something to do with the “special guests” Rachel has on there from time to time.

News time:  The news also draws quite a congregation – but the local and national happenings aren’t the draw.  Neither is it the weather or sports – and it’s certainly not the local commercials or more that pull them in.  So what’s the draw to the six o’clock news? … the local crime report of course!  But they don’t watch it so much to see what crimes have been committed – they watch it to see who they know.  The funny thing is 9 out of 10 times somebody in the group knows the accused culprit.

Night time and/ or weekends: These are guys, right?  So you’d think that there’d be a lot of sports watched. NOT!!  Shocked? … me too.  Oh don’t get me wrong; when the cars that continuously turn to the left come on the tube, they’re there in droves rooting for their favorite NASCAR driver.  But other than NFL football and the occasional Friday night “smack down”, sports are pretty much amiss.  That leaves a lot of air time to be filled during the evening and weekend hours.  So what do these hardened criminals watch to fill all those vacant hours….


Can you believe this?  I mean, not that I’m above sitting and watching a chick movie with the Lump and all that, but to sit with “Bubba” and the boys and watch Beaches…?  There’s just something with this reoccurring scenario that screams “this is totally wrong!”

And who’d have ever thunk that while a countless conglomeration of females across the nation gather in front of their tubes on Monday nights to watch The Bachelor or The Bachelorette, that the boys behind bars would be sitting shoulder to shoulder discussing amongst themselves who they think might get a rose this week? 

Are you kidding me?!

It doesn’t stop there.  I was shocked to walk into the “day area” one night and find them all nestled together watching…Dancing with the Stars – but I was absolutely floored when I realized…THEY WATCH IT EVERY WEEK! 

How these choices must befuddle the Nelson Ratings folk.

So there you have it, instead of the People’s Choice Awards, The Criminal Choice Awards.  Slightly different than you suspected, huh?  SO the next time you see the portrayal of inmates as hardcore unreachable, unrehabilitatable citizens, just remember…

there’s a softer side to the sentenced.

…from the inside…ray-ray

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Doing time – linking twenty-fours

They call it “doing time” – being in jail that is.  I’ve heard many of the inmates dish out advice, “let the time serve you instead of your serving the time.”  There’s a lot of truth and wisdom in that statement.  Simply explained, it means using the place you are at and the time you’ve been given to the fullest and best of your ability.  The truth of the matter is whether you are confined behind the walls of a prison or free in society, we are all some place “doing time.”  

Twenty-four hours is twenty-four hours – in or out. 

No one receives extra.  

No one receives less.

Freedom and responsibility are twin sisters – they go hand in hand.  When a man is stripped of his freedom, the level of his responsibilities diminishes accordingly.  Contrariwise, where there is freedom, there is a greater level of responsibility and many more things to manage.  But still yet, time does not change – 

twenty-four hours is twenty-four hours – in or out.

In this place called jail, my responsibilities and what I have to manage are not much.  All that I possess in here is contained within a two-by-two metal lockbox underneath a military style bunk that is meagerly adorned with a green mattress (which is actually a stretch of a description – it’s more like a mat that one would use in Pilates).

My wardrobe management has minimized as well – jail is not the place for a fashion show.  There’s the standard orange jumper (pronounced “jumpa” with the emphasis on the A) that you’ve seen so often on many of the court and cop TV shows.  Concealed beneath the jumper and usually never seen by the general public, but now exposed exclusively to the reads of “from the inside,” are the simple blue gym shorts with white trim that scream 1980’s P.E. class.  And then, of course, the essentials: white undershirts, white boxers and white socks – standard apparel items that can be purchased at any department store for a quarter of the price that they cost in jail.  Yes, you are correct; they do not furnish these items.  You must purchase them from the jail – and the smiley happy face of savings at your local Wal-mart does not reside within the walls.

Last, but certainly not least, footwear – one vintage pair of white Riddle tennis shoes that I wouldn’t be caught dead in outside of these walls, but at the present, I’m very pleased to have.  The alternative is a pair of black Velcro clasp “prison shoes” called, no lie, “Cruizers.”  Imagine completely blacked out Converse Chuck Taylors, with Velcro instead of shoe laces only 100 times nerdier and you’re pretty close to Cruizers.  Oh how they scream ugly…and cheap.

By the way, most of this prison garb is made by the Bob Barker Company.  Rumor has it that this is the same Bob Barker that is famous for telling us to “come on down!” as well as asking us to have our pets spayed and neutered.  Or it could just be one of those infamous jailhouse tails.  Although it’s a lot more fun to believe the rumor.

As for the responsibility and management of the daily grind – meals are served at the same time everyday – 6:30am, 12 noon, and 4:30pm.  At times, on the outside, I’ve tried unsuccessfully to not eat after 8:00pm in order to shed a few unwanted pounds.  Now I have the help I needed! (Smile)

The lights come on at the same time every morning – 6am, and go off at the same time every night – 12 midnight.  Holidays and weekends are barely distinguishable from any other day.  After a while you begin to mark time by what shift of guards are working.  Day by day, days link together and time passes, but…

twenty-four is twenty-four – in or out!

Though in the physical realm we are held by time and space, in our minds, at any given time we are capable of living in three different places – the past, the present and the future.  Deep within the recesses of the memory bank of our minds are innumerable memories of experiences we have lived.  Each of these memories has a residual emotion attached to them that are a remnant of the feeling we experienced at the time of the actual event.  What’s amazing is that at any given time and sometimes out of nowhere, we are able to recall these experiences, play them over again in our minds, and actually feel the emotions that are attached to them.  It’s a glorious give and take phenomenon.

We feel proud when we recall a graduation, promotion, accomplishment or award we received years before; happiness and joy when we replay the birth of a child, that first kiss or a special vacation across the screen of our mind.  We can even feel a rush of calm wash over us when we recall a majestic sunset from a special time of our life.

However, we must take the bad with the good.

Mingled within those favorable memories are the not so pleasant ones of past failures, regrets, poor choices, being wronged and doing wrong – we all have them.  They haunt us with feelings of guilt, sadness, anger, shame, remorse, and despair.  Unfortunately, all too often these are the memories and emotions that we tend to dwell on and allow to slowly whittle away our strength and self-worth.  If we’re fortunate, with time and/or help, we can come to understand that the past is the past - there is nothing to be gained by dwelling on it, nor anything we can do to change it.

Projecting our minds to ponder on the future has a similar but different spin.  Unlike the past, where the outcome has already been revealed, the future and its possibilities are a wide open undetermined mystery.  Therein lays the trap.  If we allow ourselves, we can expand an abundant amount of mental power, playing the “what if” game – what if this happens? what if that happens? – and completely gloss over and miss the very twenty-four we are in.

The astonishing thing is our emotions are not immune from this forward thinking either.  Thoughts of future events can inflame unrealistic hope and extreme anxieties.  It’s amazing how we can work ourselves up over something that hasn’t even happened – with huge odds against them playing out the way we project them to in the first place.  Although we still do it.  We still allow ourselves to wrestle with future happenings over and over and over in our minds, wasting countless time and energy that could have been utilized in the NOW – the present – the twenty-four we’ve been given – the twenty-four we’re in – 

the only place we can truly live and do something about.

Regardless of the situation or circumstance we may find ourselves, who we are does not change.  We are a unique creation of the Most High with a set of unique skills, abilities, talents, gifts and personality that He has assembled in a unique way to create the only YOU there is.  There is no other YOU – never has been another YOU – nor will there ever be another YOU.  DNA proves what God has always known (it takes Science a little time to catch up with God).  

Therefore, BE and USE what God has given you

in the twenty-four you’ve been given.

We weren’t uniquely created for just kicks and giggles.  We were given life and expected to live out our uniquely created lives wherever we may be.  Know this, where you are today is not a surprise to God – He knows exactly where you are.  In fact, He allowed you to be where you are.  Yes…He’s got it like that.

Therefore, BE and USE what God has given you

wherever you may find yourself

in the twenty-four you’ve been given.

Throughout the course of any given twenty-four, most generally, we will encounter “others” as we go to and from the places God allows us to be.  There is no such thing as chance meetings – God orchestrates and ordains all.  These “others” that we encounter are placed in our path for a reason – sometimes us for them, and other times, them for us.  Additionally, the purpose of some encounters will be obvious, while others not so much.  Just remember, the greatest act of LOVE is to humble ourselves, give of ourselves and serve “others” – where they are (not location but situation and circumstance of life).

Therefore, BE and USE what God has given you

wherever you may find yourself

to love and serve “others” you encounter

in the twenty-four you’ve been given.

Lastly, we all have purpose.  The problem is a lot of the time we focus too much on the quest of discovering our purpose.  Or even worse, we stay trapped and paralyzed by our past instead of merely living our purpose in the twenty-four we’ve been given.  So what is our purpose for the twenty-four?  Simply put – SHINE – be a light – and bring glory to the One who created all.  The great surprise is as we link twenty-fours together, ultimately we live out our purpose.  

Therefore, BE and USE what God has given you

wherever you may find yourself

to love and serve “others” you encounter

in order to SHINE to bring glory to God

in the twenty-four you’ve been given.

Remember:  We are all some place “doing time.”  Twenty-four is twenty-four – in or out.

Big Love…
…from the inside…ray-ray