7/13/07 LETTER TO JACK

Editor’s Note:  Jack was a good friend and my Pastor’s husband on the outside. He wrote often and visited when he could.

7/13/07
Jack,
Thanks for your letter – whenever you send it, it’s appreciated. No pressure believe me! I have way more time to respond – no grass to mow, places to go, things to do so I take it as it comes – that is one thing this place hammers home to me. There is nothing I can do BUT go minute to minute, working with what is given. God had a plan, & I, like Solomon & many others, strayed, attempting to make my own plan. I am grateful I didn’t suffer some of his wrath as some Biblical figures did! This feels like quite a lot however, I’m sure these are things you realized & lived a long time ago, attempting to live outside God’s plan for you. I realized that, tried to do what was best at times, but obviously failed miserably. I am grateful for another opportunity – not chance, as that sounds too much like it’s ify or having to do with luck. I believe we make our own luck and create opportunities now, whether we like the ones we create or not is truly a different story, but we nevertheless have to live them. That is another thing I know!

Pardon my rambling. It might be the 98 degree temps we had today (95 yesterday), the state of fatigue of playing a full game tonight (basketball) and I am on my 3rd letter as I await a phone opportunity to call my wife. With 55 guys & 2 phones, it’s tough. They shut off @ 11 pm – 8 am & various other times during the day, but I am only able to call her collect and haven’t been successful lately with catching her. It’s frustrating, but then again it’s a lesson in faith and acceptance. Deal with it. Pick the file cabinet up off Rte. 104 and deal with it.

Yes I miss people like the ones you mentioned, though the shame & guilt return when I think of people I have not had an opportunity to talk to since this “train wreck” happened. I used to see & talk with him @ Reading Buddies – something else I miss & probably will not be able to resume. But I am working on a couple other projects for inmates that will carry over to the outside if we (another guy from work & I) can get it off the ground. God works in those mysterious ways. Then there’s that book of course…..

It is interesting with all the guys going home or being transferred – or even going to the box – the flavor of our floor here @ B Center has changed a good deal in the last couple of weeks. A lot of new faces, many younger guys who are already very experienced with prison life. It definitely shows in the selection of T.V. shows. It is not so much that I watch, but I use the day room to write (like now) as I do not want to turn on the light in our four man room with one guy asleep. It also attracts bugs and there are no screens on the windows. (hey, we’re prisoners, we don’t need no stinkin’ screens!) The smells of the kitchen behind me & the heat of this large (40’ x 16’ ish) room is a bit much at times. Unlike others, I do not like to hang my clothes on the drying racks less they smell like rice and beans or jack mac – hard especially when it’s my pillow case – makes me hungry when I go to bed!

Wed. Feel pretty good today (my knee) considering I played the whole game last night – it’s sore, a little swollen, but worth it. I find the confidence I feel on the court helps off it. Guys I don’t know come up & compliment me – they usually call me O.T. (old timer) or Bird! I realize now how shaky some of my decisions were in subsequent months after my arrest. Should I do this or that, choose this or that. My choice of guys to work my business was aided by my former partner thank goodness as I was off the mark myself. While right in it, I thought I was okay. Months later I realize that and other choices were not my best. Now I am building back up to, as Cheryl says, “do the next right thing.”

You mentioned ESPN & the Hot Dogs. (my son took his first trip to Coney Island recently) I am amazed there is enough stuff for all the channels on cable. No wonder picking your nose through a picket fence makes headlines as they have to find something to fill it up. The AM news has depressed me so I do not and cannot watch. NYC has so much crime, but I remember Rochester had equal amounts.

The guy I’m working with on a program we want to start here behind the wall has been here for a murder during a robbery – since 1987. He was in his early 20’s so he doesn’t know cell phones, internet, lots of things. It is like a time warp in some ways, and hence our program basis. (among others)

As I re-read this letter (and yours) I see how scattered I am. – haha. Guess that speaks to my mental state!

Take care Jack, and not to worry about the frequency of writing. I thoroughly enjoy your letters as you get to them.

God Bless & Peace to you,
Van

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