The Texas Prison System - What's It Really Like?

The way it really is in TDCJ and Prison Units in Texas

What do I have to be thankful for?

I am sitting here thinking about Thanksgiving which is this coming week and how much that was always a day that I have always enjoyed being with family. I will be missing all of it this year, but the past couple of years it seems that half of the time when it was a holiday or something I was in rehab somewhere anyway.

I am mailing this tomorrow, but no matter what day it gets there, if it gets there before, I want it to get posted the night before Thanksgiving, because I know that is the time when I will probably be thinking a lot about what I am missing on Thanksgiving, and maybe some of you will be too. So this is for all of us.

I see that a lot of mothers of inmates have been the ones that send me comments. A couple have told me I make them think of their own sons and daughters. When I think of my own mother I hope she is going to have a really good day tomorrow. I hope she cooks up a big turkey and all the sides and that she knows I would give anything to be there, heaping up my plateful. I hope after the meal there is nothing but huesos left (that is bones for those of you who don’t speak Spanish.). And I hope somebody helps do the dishes. I hope all of you do the same, and don’t spend too much time feeling sorry for us, your kids that are in prison. We are all OK.

Here in county nobody has said much but I am pretty sure we will get some kind of Thanksgiving meal tomorrow. And I also figure it more than likely isn’t going to be anything like the meals we are all missing at home. But it’s alright.

I for one don’t want to think about what got me here or what I am missing out on but more about what is going to get me back to the other side. I am going to be thankful I am given this opportunity to set new goals for myself and to spend some time getting right. I am thankful that by the time I get out of here I am going to be an uncle, and that my sister is feeling and doing good. I am thankful that I have at least a few people that have remembered I still exist and who care about me. I am thankful I have everything I need already, and now I have a chance to learn what to do with it.

I hope you all have something in mind to be thankful for too.

Happy Thanksgiving and Peace ~ Magnum

It’s hard to help a friend from within prison

Today I was sitting here thinking about a friend of mine who lives in Tennessee. She is a lovely person, beautiful both inside and out, and I consider her one of my very best friends in the world. I have met her in person only once, for a few days, when I took a camping trip over to the Tennessee area and into the Smoky Mountains. I was 19 at the time, and by then we had known each other for about 3 years. We met playing an online game together! But meeting her was awesome, and she means a lot to me. I wish I could help her more with some stuff she has going on right now.

At this time in her life, she has been having some sad times and she is having troubles getting over her first serious boyfriend. I can see she is stuck, not able to move forward and not happy with how she feels right now. I try to talk to her and to help her, but sometimes I think she doesn’t take the things I say very sincerely, because I suspect she thinks I may say some things just so I can move that guy out of the way and position myself in closer with her. But the truth is, I really think she is a good person and she has been a true friend to me. She is one of the very few people that actually knew me from the outside world that has written to me. It means a lot.

So today I sit thinking about her, and her situation, and how I can help her, as a friend, to deal with it. And I have a question for the women out there. If you have a male friend that tries to console you about a relationship issue you might be having, do you automatically assume that he has ulterior motives and that he is trying to get in good with you? Or, is it possible for him to reach out to you, and for you to take it sincerely?

The truth is, I even have to ask myself the same question. Am I being honest or am I deep down, trying to get in good with my friend? I think my motives are sincere. I do care for her very much. And, I want what is best for her. No matter what the reasoning behind what I say to her, I do care about her and I want her to be alright, not depressed about some guy…

What I wish she would know is, as I have come to learn in here, it’s all about being in the moment, and we need to try to find our own happiness from inside. Oh, I know she will be alright. She is smart and has everything she needs to succeed in everything. Right now she is having her own journey just like I am. Come to think of it, probably her journey is a pretty normal one compared to mine. I wish her well!

I wish every one of you well too.
Peace y’all ~ Magnum

A fellow inmate reaches out

Today is the 17th of November, and it is a great day! The reason it is such a great day is that last night a fellow prisoner here at the county jail reached out. For the sake of this post, I am going to call him “Ali”. Ali and I were  just sitting around, and laughing with the guys.

Anyway, I went back over to my bunk, deciding to call it a night. I was just getting ready to go to sleep, when Ali surprises me by saying “Man, it suck’s that you’re leaving already.” At first I was a little confused by his comment, so I asked him why. He responded by telling me he hadn’t ever heard anyone be so open and candid about their addiction, and that he had wanted to talk about his own addiction with me. So, I invited him to sit and talk for awhile.

He told me about his addiction to meth as well as many other substances. He told me how embarrassed he was about being an addict, and he asked me, “Magnum, why aren’t you ashamed or embarrassed of your addiction? You seem so open about it.”

I told him that I am not ashamed of my addiction, but that I am ashamed of many of my actions that came about due to my addiction. I also told him that I am not embarrassed by the fact that I was shooting up, as I don’t think I would be the me I am today if I didn’t have those experiences. And, that I couldn’t be where I am spiritually and mentally at this point, if it wasn’t for that part of my life. I told him for me, my addiction doesn’t have to be a dark secret, but instead a learning tool or a spiritual tool that has helped me.

All in all, the conversation gave me such a good feeling. It is hard to explain, but I felt a true joy to listen to someone else, and to have them express that it felt good to talk about it with someone honestly, and to have them thank me for that. It was a conversation that also helped me express some thoughts that I had floating around in my head, and once I put them together and said them out loud, it reassured me that I am going in the right direction.

I just thank God so much for these types of small gifts he gives us. And, I am grateful that I am at a point where I can recognize this sort of random conversation as the gift that it is. I hope that all of you can have the experience of sharing with another what is inside your heart today or sometime soon, and that you find it as gratifying as I did.

Peace ~ Magnum

Sitting in prison, daydreaming helps

It’s a beautiful day at the lake. My dog is with me today, he is happy, like always. Experiencing every smell like it could be the last thing he ever smells and the best smell ever. The grill is lit, and the smell of oak and mesquite is in the air. The day is more perfect than I could ever ask for. It’s a scorching hot day, one of those Texas July heats, but there is a slight breeze in the air. When that breeze hits my face I breath it in and feel the entire world inside of me. I feel the sway of the trees and know that I am a free man and nothing could ever keep me from knowing that freedom.

I hear my name called, and just as I turn my head to see who could be calling, all that beauty of the universe that was in me is suddenly gone, vanished just like that. Instead, I am looking into the pale face of my celly, his eyes with dark puffy bags under them from the lack of sun. A cold shiver runs down my spine due to the constantly blasting air conditioning as well as my stark reality. Everything here is white, not the glittering white that Jesus might have had around him, but a dull white that brings no excitement, or interest. I think they make it totally bland and boring on purpose to numb us.

This is the daily reality check that hits me while I sit here, waiting, letting the minutes and hours and days tick by and dreaming of that moment in time that my heart so longs for and my mind so easily recreates. Ever since I was a young kid, I have been a day dreamer. I know I was in trouble for it enough during my school days. Here, I find myself sometimes escaping my current reality with images of another place and time. Maybe picturing myself playing my guitar. Maybe on a stage in front of a crowd or maybe just around a campfire with a few good friends.

Sometimes the more down to earth dreams are the best ones, they feel so real. Me, with a wife and kids, and so happy to be with them and loving my life with them. Some people say that they try not to imagine the world or think of it’s possibilities while they are here because it is painful to them. They just stay in the reality of incarceration. It is true that I may miss home all the more when I have such imaginings, but my dreams drive me to be out again, and they help me push to reach my goals.

Sometimes I motivate myself to exercise by picturing myself being healthy, looking and feeling great, like a movie star! Hey, it’s possible, right? So why not get up and try to at least get as close to my dreams as possible.

So, today I say, I am going to keep on daydreaming. I am sitting by that lake with my good old dog, waiting to see my family. Maybe I will be sitting there for a year or a little more, maybe it will be four full years, but soon enough, I will be in that cool, clear water again with the sun shining down on me, and a whole lot of living to do.

Peace ~ Magnum

I am convicted and going to Texas Prison – a very real feeling sets in

Today is Nov 8th, I just got through washing clothes. For those who do not know, when you are in jail, you can either send your whites off to be washed by the jail laundry or wash your things by hand. I prefer to wash by hand. I never thought I would be washing my underwear by hand, but it’s actually pretty relaxing to just get lost in daydreams while scrubbing away, thinking of every thing I miss so much. Some-time, I even sing one of my favorite tunes to myself while I scrub.

To wash my clothes, I crush up one of the bars of soap that the jail supplies. I add a small tube of toothpaste that is also supplied by the jail, and a little shampoo so it will suds nicely. The toothpaste is the secret to getting the clothes extra white. I add all these items together and whip them up until the soap is dissolved. It’s amazing how white my washing comes out this way, without using any bleach!

Anyway, this last Friday I received my papers telling me I am ready to go to TDCJ. When I received the document stating my readiness a very real feeling set in. The feeling that I AM GOING TO PRISON.
The truth is, I am scared. Not for my well being but for the unknown. This is a new, unknown experience for me, and new experiences have always made me anxious. I just really want to get there and get the initial introduction to prison life over with and behind me.

I won’t be able to write anyone for a coupe of weeks while I am going through the intake process, but I want you to know I will be thinking of you all.  I would like to say I love every one of you that has taken the time to read my blog and support me. Don’t worry about me, I will be OK. I can hold my own.

I want to add a special hello to Kasey, I miss you every single day. You are beautiful, in every way, shape and form, inside and out. Also, hello to my mom and to my sister, I love y’all. And, thanks to those that help me with this blog, it means a lot to me and is helping me feel connected to all the people I care about.

Peace ~ Magnum

Illusions by Richard Bach

I recently was lucky enough to pick up a good book off the book cart. Actually, this is the 2nd really good book I have grabbed. I think generally speaking the donated books we have to choose from are not so great, or at least not my taste. There are a lot of romance novels which aren’t for me. I have read a few westerns that were ok, and Twilight, which let me tell you, I didn’t like it. I think that book is written for women. The one other really good book I read so far while here is The Way of the Peaceful Warrior. I thought this book was awesome, and it made a big impact on me.

But anyway, I grabbed Illusions by Richard Bach. It’s a thin little book, and I really enjoyed it. I told my mom about reading it when he had our weekly call on the phone, and she told me it had been around since she was in high school, and she remembered reading it years ago.

Illusions by Richard Bach

The book is the story of a guy flying airplanes who meets another guy who is a messiah type. The messiah type teaches the pilot a lot about himself, and life in general. Here is a few quotes from it that made me think about things:

“A cloud does not know why it moves in just such a direction and at such a speed. It feels on impulsion… this is the place to go now. But the sky knows the reasons and the patterns behind all clouds, and you will know too, when you lift yourself high enough to see beyond horizons.”

This made me think of myself. Sometimes in my life, I have gone against my impulses to do the right thing. I have chosen a different direction instead of trusting my god, or sky, to send me in the right direction through my impulses which are usually well intentioned. I find it strange that my whole life I’ve gone against everything I know to be right, knowing exactly where it will end up taking me in life.

So, I guess in the end, I have acted on desire, and not really on gut impulses. Now that I sit here I remind myself I wanted to be here, obviously. We are all in our certain state of life because we chose it, and if we don’t like it, we just gotta work a little to get to where we wanna be.

Richard Bach writes “You are never given a wish without also being given the power to make it true. You may have to work for it, however.”

In closing for today I leave you with this final quote from Illusions. If you haven’t read the book, or did years ago and don’t recall it so well, I suggest you give it another read. It’s a short book but has a good message.

“Here is a test to find out whether your mission on earth is finished. If you’re alive, it isn’t.” – RB

Editor’s note: Here is a link to Illusions by Richard Back on Amazon.com
http://www.amazon.com/Illusions-Richard-Bach/dp/0440343194/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1290368431&sr=1-1

The things I miss on the outside

Today I woke up thinking about what to write. “How can I inspire people?” I thought. While I sat there thinking hard, I realized that not every blog post has to be insightful and not every thing needs to have special meaning. So maybe today I will just write about myself and some of what goes through my head these days.

I’ve never been one to worry about the reason I am on this planet, I usually tend to just let the world carry me like a leaf in the wind. The truth is that’s probably why I am in jail and headed to prison, or one of the contributing reasons.

I find myself wondering sometimes, if I would have planned my life a little better would things have come out any better at this point? I really don’t know and don’t expect to know and this is exactly why I don’t like to think about these things. A “possibility war” starts to break out in my head.

Things I do know for sure is that I miss the sun, and so many of the simple things I took for granted a few months ago. A slow drive down River Road on a nice day. The sound of the river while sitting on the bank on a moonlit night. The way my dog loves me and is always happy to see me, no matter what. Or the sun setting on the lake late in the day.

Saying that I think of a song Jason Boland sings. He says “No matter how big the storms… the sun is shining somewhere down in Texas.”

I feel that right now I am in a storm in Texas. A lot of us are, those of us inside and outside too. I gotta work hard to get to that sun, but if I manage that, then soon I’ll see “The rays of light … makin’ me wanna turn the key and put down the throttle and get lost down 35.”

Peace be with you all ~ Magnum

Thank you for reaching out

Thank you to everyone who has commented on this blog site. I have received your messages and I want you to know that you all help me more than you can imagine. I have never been complimented on my thoughts so much. I always thought that what I had to say didn’t have any worth, but you all are helping me to believe in myself and my recovery.

To everyone who is struggling with drugs or who knows and loves somebody who is suffering, I want to let you know that even when things seem at their lowest, things can and do get better. I am in jail, headed to prison, some might consider this a low point in my life but my lowest was when I was out on the street using and feeling so much shame. Now I feel I am growing.

If any of you would like to write me a personal letter I would be happy to receive it and read what you have to say and learn what your story is. I truly believe that recovery cannot be done alone so let’s do it together and grow.

My whole life I have always been a giver, sometimes giving the wrong things and in the wrong ways, but I have always wanted to help when I saw someone needed something. Now I know that with a little kindness and an open heart I can help others and help myself too.

Peace, Love and Noodles ~ Magnum

Pieces of the puzzle

Today is Nov. 1st, the beginning of a new month and one month closer to the end of my sentence. The fact is I don’t wish for the time to race by, not even under these circumstances, because I know that one day I will miss even these times and that each day counts for something. What life is showing me is that I may not like my circumstances at the moment, but at some point in my life I will look back, maybe even with a smile, and understand why God cut my puzzle pieces into these shapes.

What I try to tell myself is that it doesn’t matter how difficult the puzzle is, or how long it takes me to find a spot for every piece until the picture is revealed. Every piece has it’s own place, each groove is made to fit into a notch, and it’s up to me to piece them together in the right way. Some parts will be easy to figure out, and some are going to be more difficult. I might need to work on a few of those corners and tough spots to get it right. But there is a whole picture there, and my puzzle pieces will all fit together if I keep working on it every day.

The Prison Museum in Huntsville, Texas

From the Editor:
No new post from Texas Magnum today, but I ran across this site:
www.txprisonmuseum.org

Isn’t that something, a Museum devoted to Texas Prisons, in Huntsville. You can even purchase an engraved paving stone and become a patron. The museum has a bookstore that has quite a variety of prison related reads, including “Meals To Die For“, a book about Death Row inmates’ last meal requests and the recipes.

I don’t know about you, but when and if I am in East Texas,  the Prison Museum will not be on my list of things to see. I have a feeling that hearing about it first hand from Texas Magnum is going to be more than enough prison lore to last me a lifetime.

I am a convicted felon – A sad day of reflection for me

To the world:

Today is the 28th of October, 2010. Just 4 days ago I signed papers at my court arraignment which convict me to 4 years in Texas Department of Corrections. It is a date I will remember for the rest of my life – the 24th day of October.

Truthfully it was one of the most relieving yet sad feelings I have ever experienced. Relieved because I know now what to look forward to, and have at least a rough idea of a date of release. It’s also very sad to me though. Sad because this isn’t what I wanted for my family or for myself. Sad because it takes me going to prison to take a look at myself.

It’s inconceivable to me now, but when I think about these past couple of years, I always had this strange desire to go to prison, out of curiosity and something more. I always wanted to be the cool guy or the bad-ass in the crowd. Somehow I thought the excesses with drugs made me the bad-ass. I guess I thought going to prison was going to make me a bad-ass too. Now I see that going to prison doesn’t make you the bad-ass, it makes you the jackass.

What I have already had time to learn here in these past 3 months is that what makes a guy the bad-ass in prison is how you carry yourself. Not in the way that might seem obvious, but in the way that you can choose to go against the grain and do what you should have been doing all along. The bad-ass in prison is the man who comes out a changed man. Changed in the ways you should be.

I can’t expect the State of Texas to reform me into the man my family needs. It’s up to me and only me to become a real man. I don’t expect to become perfect, or not ever to fall, but even if I fall down or stumble there is always tomorrow or even the rest of that day to do right.

Peace to you all ~ Magnum

A poem about heroin addiction: Venomous

As I anxiously wait for the magistrate’s date
I sit and ponder my majestic mistakes.

My crimes are gathered ’round me in a pool of shame,
what a fool I was to think that alone I could change.

Over and over poison coursed through my veins
like venom from a lovely, deadly and devious snake.

And all the while I prayed to God for God to fix
the troubles caused by my own tortured state.

Instead – He placed me in this iron-barred fate
alone, all alone with my majestic mistakes.

God, I cried, why is this to be my fate?
Yet the days ticked by and I began to slowly awake

and move away from my sure date with death
with that lovely, conniving, and venomous snake.

I could see with clear eyes how it was God’s loving grace
that landed me here in my iron-barred fate.

Near now, so near, the magistrates date –
and yet I clearly see that my majestic mistakes

Were a blessing from God allowing me to awake
from the poisonous bite of my venomous snake.

Fights over the TV in jail – Small things change a man

Today is Saturday and of course, a fight almost broke out due to the TV, and most likely there will be a fight tonight as well.

A circumstance like this truly makes me think about the differences in inmates and how we decide to carry ourselves. On one side you have a type of man who has the mindset that prison was made for reacting. When I say reacting I mean that they react out on instinct and fear when a confrontation arises. They react with their fists first, not with their mind and heart. I believe that some men just cannot swallow their pride, and cannot be OK with not being the big man, the one with the final say so.

Of course, in here you can’t let yourself get preyed on but you don’t have to fight if you don’t want, especially if you are not in danger. Who is the bigger man, the one who raises his fist or the one who prays for the other? My opinion is the one who prays for the other. It is easier said than done, but just as I decided to start a blog today, I also have to decide to grow, one step at a time.

I believe that even the small things change a man. You may see many inmates keep their personal areas a mess, so start by cleaning yours, and keeping it clean. This way you practice discipline. When someone angers you, pray for the individual. This way you can practice a little humility. These are the things I have personally decided to do, and I feel that these small things will help me in my journey of not returning to this place called prison.

As they say, “Life’s a trip” so I might as well enjoy the ride. There is no reason in me being miserable any more. Today is a new day, and another day that I’m going to say “yes I can.”

Peace be with you all,
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