Thursday, November 12, 2015

William Myrl; Letters to No One (31)

Dear No One,
We had a shakedown. What this means is that we stayed in our cells for a few days, ate in, as it were, and then were searched. The thoroughness of the search varies dependent upon the CO who visits you. Whatever happens, you get to waggle your balls around for someone. There are a few perks to this life, and being stripped searched is one of them. It has to be worse for them than it is for us. I don't have to look at a bunch of naked assholes, and any awkwardness I once felt about revealing myself to a stranger in a uniform has long since evaporated. It’s a routine now. Tuck in your shirt, take off your pants, whichever.
It is extraordinarily hot in our cell, because we are next to the furnace, and the COs who shook us down commented on it at length. Normally, we have a laundry bag over the vent to divert some of it. This came off, and my celly retired his fan so they had the full brunt of the heat while they were in here. I had gone quite out of my way to hide my porn,  it’s illegal now, if you’ll recall, and it was not found. No one ever checks everything, and paper products aren't exactly easy to pick out in cells full of papers. There isn't much point to the shakedowns, but they have to do them. There is so much warning that getting caught with something can only be one's own fault. It keeps us from having too much stuff, detritus, and oversized contraband.
Did I tell you about the time we had an oven? Okay, you take two ramen boxes to make the frame. You line the inside with aluminum and run some steel wool zig zag through soda can tabs all down the top of the oven, with an air gap from the roof, obviously. Get a cord and hook it up to the steel wool, put a cardboard flap as the oven door. Voila, the wool heats up, heating the oven. It pops if there are kinks in the wool, so work them out. The aluminum is all soda cans, and the steel scrubby can be bought from someone who works in the kitchen. It could be any size, but the ramen boxes are convenient if you can get them. The plug can be cut off an old fan, or put together by hand if all you’ve got is wire from a broken bubble tv or what have you. This thing doesn't cook fast, but it is better than anything else we can get.

Now I have to leave you. ‘Heroes’ is on.

William Myrl (31)

William Myrl; Letters to No One (30)

Dear No One,

I'm a useless bastard. I haven't done anything today, and I'm not even bothering with commas anymore. Its Friday, my weekend, and most of the morning went to DnD. I've sworn off it in general, but this was a special appearance where I got to try to ruin another guy's game by killing off the party with characters I had built the night before. I'm bored just writing about it.

Interesting dynamic at work. Jack, the fellow who got me the clerk job, essentially runs the place. The manager is old and portly and has no goal in life but to minimize stress before he retires. Jack doesn't demand anything of anyone, but he politely coerces, and convinces you this new way of doing things was the one you wished for all along. I could never replace him, because I don't care enough, don't have the impetus to spare from tasks that actually matter to me. Now that the kiosk is working and my new player is in hand, I have to begin producing content for the site again. I had been working on M4. Now I will switch off to my serial story, The Lady in the Labyrinth- A Tale of Mythopoeia. Its going to be a hoot.

I sent in my application to Prison Pen Pals about a week ago. I'm not sure what to expect. I did a self portrait for the profile pic. Its more accurate than the sub-optimal selfie on my front page. My ad is specific about my circumstances and vague about myself. I include a poem at the end, and it is difficult to imagine there is anyone more than I am floating around on that website.

I had my dad look them up, and he spent ten minutes on the phone narrating the difficulty of finding the regular ads. Apparently, the people who pay extra are easy to access, and the basics are almost maliciously obscured. So I sent in for the gold star account, they literally paste a gold star next to your name. Its the account a step above the normies.
As I have a job now, I can afford to splurge on exactly this sort of nonsense. My address is already on my website, but so far none of my ten to fifteen loyal readers has deigned to write me. So it is you and I and my family until they do.

Letter writing is odd, and many of my confreres avoid the obligation. The fellows who sign up for the pen pal services usually do so hoping to "strike", to find someone who they can lie to and convince to send them money. I too, am looking to strike, though it is not money orders I covet. I will be trying to chivy more votes on webfictionguide. Wish me favor.

I do have one pen pal now. And in that particular case it is enough to have the letters and the words. An engaging correspondent and a friend, she is the sort of person I would hope to connect with through PPP(a truly awful acronym); but I would settle for the votes.

Ill let you know if anything comes of it.

William Myrl (30)0

Thursday, October 15, 2015

William Myrl; Letters to No One (29)

Dear No One,

All the signs say I will have my player replaced this week. I have been putting off writing you because of the expectation of its arrival. Now I see the folly of my ways.

It's Columbus Day. Is that still a real holiday in your world? Does the post office still close for national rape a native american day? Do schoolchildren put on ridiculous paper hats and sing of oceans blue? Here, the shop is closed, so I will have a three day week. The mail will not run. They shut that down for any possible excuse, including General Lee day, which exists only in Virginia. Property isn't running, so one more day to wait for my music machine…

I finally pushed over my hump in M4. It always happens the same way, the writing gets hard between fifty and one hundred pages in. I don't enjoy it. It doesn't happen. There are the two and three page days; the ones. Last month I wrote less than seventy pages of fiction. This month I have higher hopes. Over the beginning book bump, we can do our five pages in under two hours and keep the days moving happily along.

I am so annoyed with Jark. A friend of his has a friend who works in publishing as a Junior Junior Junior Editor or something along those lines. She reads manuscripts that have gotten passed the query stage. His friend gave her the prologue of his book, and apparently, she enjoyed it. He is dilly-dallying about typing up the rest. It has been a month and he hasn't started. I understand the overwhelming seeming nature of the undertaking, I've been there. But I don't understand not doing it anyway. He's hit that place where he's decided he'll get to it eventually. That is not a good spot to visit. There is no guarantee that this Jr Jr Jr will like his book, or if she does, that she will be able to convince anyone else to like it. If it was my opportunity, the biggest difficulty would be typing with my hands shaking so much. (From adrenaline, not from palsy or toxic lithium levels. I did experience a couple of minor tremors when I first started taking it, no more though.) I told him about black swans, and about PCs and NPCs, but he refused to read Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality; there is no helping some people. I will keep badgering though.
Running out of time again. The next letter shouldn't have a limit on it.

William Myrl(29)

Friday, October 2, 2015

William Myrl; Letters to No One (28)

Dear No One,

We had our annual "field day". It had its successes and failures. We went to breakfast in the morning as on any other day, and there was much grumbling that because of inclement weather forecasts there would be no picnic at all. That is what the memos suggested. We locked down after breakfast, and at or after nine o'clock the counselor came into the pod to begin giving out and affixing the paper bracelets, like carnival tokens, that signified our superior status. Those without bracelets could not participate. Anyone convicted of a charge within the last year would be barred from participating.

My name was on the no fly list because of a charge I received in May; I was accused of eating a regular tray when I was assigned to common fare meals. That charge had been dropped, not that anyone told me this, but I had request forms confirming it saved up for exactly this eventuality. I did get my strip of green wrist paper, if an hour after everyone else.

The picnic itself consists of everyone going outside and being rationed hot dogs and hamburgers. It's the best food we receive all year, even if they did give us stale white bread instead of buns. It is also the annual opportunity for the inmate bands to perform for the population. As we haven't had a rec supervisor for a few months, they hadn't been allowed to practice. You could tell. Live music was a novelty, though, and given the eternal absence of my music player it was a nice change.

It was dreary and wet throughout, and we were locked down until twelve thirty, herded back in at around two. We went back outside at three thirty, returned inside at five o'clock. It was about as much outside time as a normal day, but with more being locked in our cells in between. Still, the hamburger meat was real meat, and that's just madness.

They didn't want to let me out in the evening either, because the wristband system was not sufficient security to protect the hamburgers from the bad kids, I had to get the sergeant to clear me again so I could participate.They had a printout in the booth with pictures of all the people on the blacklist.

I'm a tad sick, just a tad. And the other day I had another psych visit. There was a girl who clapped, involuntarily, like a baby seal, when I read one of my shorter poems. Gratifying. She had a french name I could never spell.

I'm down to my last minute of kiosk time, so I will have to say goodbye.


William Myrl (28)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

William Myrl; Letters to No One (27)

Dear No One,

People are starting to get their players back. They all put in requests well after mine, but unjust progress is better than no progress at all, or something along those lines. I miss music, and I miss not having a time limit on typing these things up. At least it probably sounds more authentic, given that there is no drafting or editing involved, just fifteen to twenty minutes of my inadequate typing.

So there are a couple of points of interest I thought I would mention. The Unit manager of this building has gone on a crusade against property boxes being left out from under the bunks. He cites the ACA standards on unencumbered space as his rationale. Funny thing, the ACA standards have nothing whatsoever to do with inmate behavior. They are federal guidelines given to the states relating what they are supposed to provide prisoners with. As it stands, all the cells in this place were built according to a single occupant standard, and like every other prison built in that fashion, they were subsequently double bunked. There is literally nothing you could do to make our cells in compliance with the ACA without knocking out a wall.

Moreover, the presence or absence of a property box on the floor has nothing to do with "encumbered" space, because that refers to fixtures, not objects like trash cans or shoes or property boxes. Amusingly, the way to get around having the box totally under the bunk is by using it as a step. This is allowed, in a complicated bureaucratic fashion, because the ladders attached to the bunks have non regulation rungs. They start too high. So, being on the top bunk, I am allowed to leave my box out no more than twelve inches from under the bed to act as an ersatz step.

The actual text of the ACA standards also reads that the boxes have to be in operation position at all times, so putting them under the bunks is a no go. They can't be opened under there. Not that there would be any room to walk in the cell if both boxes were totally out at all times, but the point is that neither the standards or the people pretending to enforce them make any sense.
They handed out nearly fifty charges in our building before people realized this wasn't a joke. I emphasize, "in our building", because our unit manager is the only one who does this. It is his personal hobby horse, and when he switches buildings the horse goes with him. He was working this building two years ago and tried the same nonsense, then he moved and it went away. Now he has returned, to everyone's consternation.

Think about this. It is not an institutional rule. The warden doesn't care, no other unit managers are doing it, and it relates to no known statute or standard. For some reason, this man has taken and intense personal interest in the positioning of our property boxes. He has used a totally irrelevant set of rules to justify it. How does this sort of thing come about? I am actually curious, WTF? Anyways, it's just one more silly thing, like having to wear our IDs with the faces visible, or tucking in our shirts on the boulevard, or separating rec periods between the buildings, or taking away grey sweatshirts because they might give the officers something similar in the future, or counting our books, or outlawing pictures with boobs in them...


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

William Myrl; Letters to No One (26)

Dear No One,

The crossfit tournament was interesting. We began with six competitors, after the second day we were down to two. One said he was too sore from the first day to continue with the events. The other "got into his feelings" because of what he felt was unfair refing from one of his friends with another one of his friends. He isn't a person who handles losing well. Did I tell you all the events? I hope not, because here they are, in order:

Murphy-1 mile, 100 pull ups, 200 push-ups, 300 squats, 1 more mile- everything completed consecutively, no mixing up exercises. Our fastest guy did it in just over 50 minutes. Grace-Thirty clean and presses with the 135. Our fastest guy did it in under four minutes. This was the evening event, with the Murph in the morning. DeadPress-Something I put together. deadlift the 315 5 times, then C+P 135 once, repeat, with the clean and press progressing thus; 155-185-205, each one time. They handled the deadlifts well, but no one could hit the 205, not quite. So we ranked them by how fast they arrived at it.  

One did so in a little over two minutes. Blew everyone else away. This was Sunday afternoon. Monday morning, Labor Day, we did another made up exercise I called the Oddball. Forty bench presses with the 185, then thirty muscle ups, in that order. Fifteen minute time limit. Someone got to 28 muscle ups, no one else got close. He wasn't nearly the fastest bencher though. After a short break we finished up with a mile run for time. 6:52 was the fastest, which isn't amazing but considering the other crap we had already put them through it was pretty good. The prize was about ten dollars in commissary, and the winner ended up splitting it with the other three who finished the competition. Now the guy who quit because of sour grapes is putting his own thing together for next month. I did his pamphlets for him, but probably won't be on this side of the yard by then. My destination, C-building. I can't do any of that stuff BTW. My murphy time is 70 minutes at the moment. Not impressive.

I stayed up to watch Colbert on the Late Show last night. I was duly disappointed. He was just another host doing bad dance moves for applause. He has an excellent deadpan. Years of the Colbert Report will do that to you.

One of his guests was Stephen King. He was like a giant skull attached to a tiny mannequin. Listening to him was interesting, because the cadence of his speech matched that of his books. The phrases he used; he is a master pattern matcher. Not that this is a bad skill to have as a writer, but it would be nice if he had other skills as well. His last word was "baby", as in, "you know you want me, baby." He kept using stock phrases.

It isn't that his books are terrible. I have read six or seven so I can hardly say that I hate him. I think he catches most of his flak from people who are reacting against just how very popular he is. His productivity can't be quibbled with, at least. They stacked up all his books to six and a half feet.

At least he's not James Patterson.


William Myrl; Letters to No One (25)

Dear No One,

My celly is odd. I can't recall if I have described him to you before. He is nearly seventy, and in appearance follows perfectly along with the caricature of "old man". His posture is slightly hunched, his belly a cauldron pulling down his midsection. He has no teeth, none, and his gray hair has thinned on the top to the point where a handful of long strands have been dragooned into the job of covering his whole pate. When he sits on his bunk to write he becomes like a snowman; head, belly legs. And when he gets out of bed in the morning, or the afternoon, or the evening, whenever really; he has the bedraggled air of a man waking after having been beaten and left in a back alley. His comb-over/comb-back doesn't survive a nap.

Enough about his looks. The man has an L-note, as they say, and yet about once every other day I hear him say something along the lines of, "when I go home," or "if I go home." That's a common habit among lifers, I observe, despite the abolishment of parole. He did some bad things he has never admitted to me but everyone knows about. All our crimes are available on the internet to anyone with the family to call. This is where he lives now, so it doesn't matter so much who he was twelve years ago.

He works in the library, when there is a library, and it gives him a feeling of completion. He was a hoarder in the real world, and now he is a hoarder of information. His property box is full of folders, full of them, where he has copied from books and magazines. He writes things down for hours and hours. It's actually quite impressive how dogged he can be. He tells me, as he tells anyone who will give him the time, that he has written over one thousand poems. He has, I have seen the paper piles. They are not good, but you need to have better taste than whatever form of badness you are looking at to know that it is not good itself. He is rewriting a novel his old celly wrote, expanding it five times over. The whole process makes me wonder whether someone much better at writing than I am will look at my novels and think, "Poor fellow, he really tries."

He is generous with his family and a sheister with everyone else. He wants the cell to feel like a home, sensible enough, so he has a policy of sharing and sharing alike. I would rather he didn't, for the most part, because I dislike the messy obligations that such arrangements necessarily create.

He is happy, most of the time, but he is a sad sort of creature. To me his hobbies seem like a desperate attempt to mine meaning out of a meaningless existence. To him they doubtless seem pleasant. He is a collector, and a scribe, and that is enough for him.


William Myrl; Letters to No One (24)

Dear No One,

I have completed my first full week as an assistant clerk at the tailor shop. There are three of us; the inventory guy, the "manager's clerk" who does the actual clerking, and myself. I am learning to fill out the daily metrics, do the payroll bookkeeping and the purchase orders, as well as keeping track of the myriad checklists and forms that are filed away never to be known again. There isn't really enough work for three people most days. So I organized a mess of files that hadn't been looked through in five to ten years and helped update the Safety Data Sheets for the various semi-hazardous chemicals that sit around the shop. I'm supposed to learn both their jobs so I can take over if either of them leaves or is fired. I was only brought on because the manager's clerk has so little time that he could be shipped off to a lower level at a moment’s notice.

It's a strange job. We have computer to use, with Microsoft applications and naught else. The CD drive was glued closed after a CD burning fiasco a few clerks back. It's not connected to the internet, of course, and any printing we do comes out of the office copier and is saved for possible review. The chief worry of the supervisor and the manager is that equipment be stolen or misused, because they do place a certain level of trust in us that isn't common in most person/prisoner contexts. I don't intend to rob them of their office supplies. It wouldn't be terribly difficult, but surely in bad taste. This is the best paying position available on the compound, starting at .55 cents an hour. It is amazing to me what people will endanger for a roll of tape. I suppose we do not become criminals because of our facility for long range planning and consequentialism. Too bad.

There are a few faces that don't approve of mine. Other inmates who wanted the job or at least wanted the job to go to someone who wasn't me. It comes to nothing in the end. We eat lunch in the shop. There is a stair into a loft cage with chairs and tables. A cozy, cramped cafeteria. People have claim on their spots, some of them have been sitting in them for years. Silly, but understandable. One of the many small ways we attain some fragment of control and normalcy; being around the same people in the same ways. No one likes change. Those who have spoken to me have all been friendly, however, and I don't anticipate any issue from that quarter. Months will pass, and I will become an accepted part of the system rather than someone who appeared one day out of nowhere and won the most coveted of positions.

I will write again soon. I had news that I wasn't likely to have my player again for some while yet. Fiddlesticks.


William Myrl; Letters to No One (23)

Dear No One,

     We are putting together an officially unofficial crossfit competetion. If you are not familiar with crossfit, it is the sport where five years from now you will be hearing how bad it is for the bodies of those who participate on a professional level. I'm not athletic enough to do the things they are going to do, but I am the only one with the weird explosive motivation necessary to put stuff together. They say, "Wouldn't it be cool if we did this?" and I say, "BAM! Done." It's the posters all over again. Actually, all I did was pick most of the events and do up some pamphlets and talk with the guys about how to officiate. That is, what counts as an overhead lock in cleans ect.. ect..

Speaking of clean and presses, I am not good at them. It is the sort of thing you have to practice. I'm a bit better than when I started, because I can get the one-thirty-five over my head now once or twice correctly, but they are going to be doing grace with it. Grace is thirty clean and presses as quickly as possible, in this case with the one-thirty-five. So William is not there yet. Very sad.

There was a bit of drama and feelings over what events were to be included and what should be made up and what should be not made up, but overall everyone seems to have a good attitude. There are going to be seven competitors and two or three officials including myself. About seven dollars has been donated to go into the pot for the winner. Normally, there are weight lifting competitions for the annual "cook out", but as the rec supervisor quit and has not been replaced, this will have to do as a substitute.

The guy I have tutoring me in the power of song is funny. He thinks there is no use for growling and that it can only harm your throat however you do it. It's like he's a stereotype of someone who went to college for singing. He sings everything really straight and precise, and he knows all the terms and the exercises and the band he's in still relegated him to backups because he's not as powerful or engaging as the talented but unschooled fellow they used as the lead. Still, very useful to have him help shore up my deficiencies and  acclimate me to singing in front of other people. We sit on one of the picnic tables outside to do our little practices. Kind of awkward. I am grateful to him though.

After I start working in the tailor shop, which will be a few days more, I will be moved to another building. There are two yards, and you don't see people from the other side very often. So I will lose the people I have been accustomed to. It is a part of the experience. Prison relationships are founded on an understanding and an expectation of geographical whimsy. Tomorrow we could be somewhere else, and never see one another again. The state does what it feels like with us. I know that's true of real life as well, but to a far lesser degree.

My time is running out on the kiosk, there are but a few of my twenty minutes left. Signing off, sorry for the ramble. Captains log...


William Myrl; Letters to No One (22)

Dear No One,

I went to my first interview with the tailor shop last Thursday. They had a little room that was mostly table, it stood on its own like a plastic playhouse, and they had me sit. It was an interview, but it was also clear that as long as I wasn't an assjack I would be in. I'm not a champion interviewer; this is probably the fourth of my lifetime. When they asked me what teamwork meant to me, I said, "A group of people working together to achieve a common goal." That was not what they meant. I was given a thorough talking to about theft and misuse of facility resources that was what the last clerk had been lost over. Everything that goes through the printer and the copier is saved on a server and eventually looked over. Good to know.
I had to do a mock-up payroll sheet on Excel, not super difficult. The mouse was backwards, and I was out of practice, but I finished substantially faster than the other applicants had. Monday I went back to do a few things on word. I had to type a memo and was instructed I would be graded on grammar and form, not on content. So naturally I began with "I was surprised to find that our maternity jeans are made from the skins of baby seals", and later, "I wondered at how prominently gerbils figured in the manufacturing process."
No one called me on it.
They had me in the big office to tell me I was hired, again warning how people would try to get me to use the position to steal office supplies or what have you. I would have a target on my back, were his words. I would probably start this coming week, or whenever the unit manager got around to adding me to the list. There will be no formal notification, so I am going to saunter over there next Monday and see what happens. It won't be the first time I have gone out with the people who have early chow, and at least I will have an excuse.
Overall I'm pleased. I will be rolling in the riches of .55 cents an hour. The shops pay more than regular prison jobs, which cap out at .45 cents. Amazing.
Hope you’re having as much fun as I am.
Secular Secularum... I guess.


William Myrl; Letters to No One (21)

Dear No One,
I was working on a portrait when he brought the mop bucket over. Jark was eating Ramen noodles on my left, and Squatpostle was working on another drawing project on my right. The man rolled up the mop bucket and sat on the fourth stool. The three of us exchanged glances as he produced a bar of soap and began shaving it on the edge of the table so that the flakes fell in the mop bucket. Squatpostle was a bit offended because his drawing surface was shaking because of it. Jark and I were giggling and making motions of amazement.
Once the man had finished mincing his soap he began soaking his clothes in the resulting slosh. The booth officer called him for a palaver and kindly explained that such was just not done. While they debated the finer points of pod laundering, the man's celly appeared and dumped more clothes into the bucket. Eventually they were forced to pretend to comply with the officer's directives by bringing the bucket into the cell with them to do the actual scrubbing. Given that some people wash their clothes in the toilet, this isn't terribly strange. But I had never seen the like before.
Our pod is situated above the segregation units, so we can hear their shenanigans. For the past few days someone has been using the vents as a phone system. It isn't very effective. But it is less annoying than when they kick the doors.
So, I've sent home all my entries for the PEN prison writing contest. I can't help but feel confident, given my mastery of the alphabet. If only my being the best always translated into the judges recognizing that I am the best. Last year the poetry winners were all free verse. You know how I feel about free verse.
I will soon be forced to return to my larger calling. Mythopoeia beckons. The first half of the novel is always the balkiest, after that the machine can pretty much just run as it will. 

William Myrl (21)

PS: My player has not been replaced yet. Very sad face. 

William Myrl; Letters to No One (20)

Dear No One,

Jark has discovered a writing contest for prisoners. I am enthused. They have categories for poetry, nonfiction, fiction, and drama. Naturally, we have things in cache for these kinds of eventualities. I called up my mammy and asked her to dig out this essay I wrote for a Creative Non-Fiction entry a year or so ago as well as a short story that I never knew what to do with. Hard to find a niche for "Mel Works for Satan."
The poetry portion has been the most fun. I've scoured my notebook for the most likely candidates. I write exclusively metered verse, that is to say, not free. Whenever I flip through a New Yorker I grind my teeth a little. If you write a pretty prose paragraph, don't feel compelled to press enter at random intervals and call the result a poem. There are a limited number of rhymes in the English language, this I know. Not everything should rhyme, especially longer works. Meter is indispensable. It doesn't have to be iambs, but it has to be something. Poetry is one of those very loosely defined words. I won't say that free verse isn't poetry. I will say that is it poetry's lowest form. Absolutely anything you can say in a free verse poem can be said more powerfully in a legitimate form, if you're willing to put the work in.
Poe said poetry shouldn't mean anything, it should exist for its own sake, an exercise in loveliness. I agree that poems shouldn't have to communicate anything in particular, however, it is quite nice when they do. There are complaints that most rhyming poetry is terrible, doggerel, etc. I agree. I would say the same thing about most forms of art, certainly movies and books and non-rhyming poetry. Extraordinary things are, by definition, unlikely. For every Raven there is a whole drift of pieces whose names I don't recall. By my count, Edgar Allen Poe has four amazing poems and the rest is dross. And that's okay. If he hadn't written the bad stuff, because it was bad, he would never have gotten around to writing the amazing things. If you don't write rhyming poetry because rhyming poetry is silly or cheap, then you are a person who will never write a good or moving rhyming poem.
That is all.
William Myrl (20)

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

William Myrl; Letters to No One (19)

Dear No One,

I’m writing you a letter because there’s nothing else I feel like doing. I wasted the morning playing Earthworm’s DnD game. Once I stopped running mine, he and Eor took it upon themselves to keep the legacy alive. They guilted me into making a character and I regret it already. It isn’t a terribly constructive way to spend my time.

Back in the cell by 10:30 I lay down and brooded for the better part of an hour. Either the morning or the game put me in a negative mood. The Doc put in to up my Wellbutrin but that hasn’t gotten through to the pill line yet. I didn’t ask him to, but he was probably on point. He is a very perceptive person. Psychology cannot always be wrong. The names of the last three medical students slipped my mind, and I am annoyed at myself for that.

Limitations are the source of my malaise. Living incarcerated is the art of distracting ourselves from our impotencies. For example, I won’t be able to kiss another girl until I’m in my forties, but I get to watch CNN and nineteen other equally captivating channels until then. The highest salary I can attain is about a half dollar an hour, but I don’t have any bills and I can sleep ANYTIME I WANT.

I can’t be with my family, but I can squat 315 and probably more soon. I have benefits, advantages that other people in this situation do not. Many inmates beg or demand more money from relatives than I do. But only I have chivvied my people into setting up a website and querying agents for me, as far as I know.

I read once that when you buy a lottery ticket what you are actually buying is the right to dream pleasantly. So all that my family does for me, all that I draw and all that I can write may be no more than that; a pleasant dream and a distraction from the reality that I cannot bodily escape. Even if Dragon’s Summer is picked up by an agency and they sell it to a publisher for some great sum, it still won’t send me home.

It would be a vindication of sorts. It would add something onto the end of my biographical byline other than bipolar bank robber and high school dropout. It would be a financial boon for me and mine, and likely a host of other positive things. Yet I would still be here. I wouldn’t get to kiss the girl. And I would have to find another pleasant dream.


William Myrl (19)

William Myrl; Letters to No One (18)

Dear No One,

Sometimes, days are just drawing.

They're moving some dirt around on the rec yard, so we couldn't go outside this morning. I worked on a portrait I intend to use for the cover of one of the Mytho books when and if we self-publish them. It has nothing to do with the book, but I wanted a striking image for advertising purposes and I had to play to my strong suites. There are several artists in this pod, and it’s nice to be able to compare and contrast with each other's work. I’ve been working so intensively over the past few months that I’ve pulled ahead of them in many ways, though I’m still a monochromatic guy. Every couple of weeks I do something that is the best thing I’ve yet done. The prospective Mytho cover is one of those things. Last night I did some editorial stuff for Jark's novel. He’s rewriting at the moment, and he gave me the prologue for review. I wrote two pages of notes. He is good, not William Myrl good, but still.

A friend of his apparently has a friend who works for or is associated with a publishing company or press. His friend gave her one of his letters to read and mentioned his aspirations and she said she would like to see some of what he has done. I’m exited at the possibility enclosed, though it will probably be nothing. I told him we should make a writer’s pact, so that if one succeeds so too does the other. 

Speaking of success, I got a response from an agent. My mom sent out a query along with twenty typescript pages over seven months ago, so we assumed it was deceased. Instead, she gets a reply asking for the first 100 pages. 
I have confidence in my novel, Dragon's Summer, but I have less confidence that any given agent will be as enthused about it as I am. If they like it, we have a global victory condition; and if not, we have gained nothing. I wonder how many months we will wait to hear which way that particular dichotomy is leaning. As my primary audience is myself, it is hard to judge my own work fairly. It’s tailored to my tastes, because my tastes produced it. I wrote DS when I was twenty three, so I feel the young adult first person voice can only be so unreasonable. There is probably something I could do to better my chances, but I don’t know what it is. 

We had raw onions today, which was madness. I stuffed most of my portion in a baggy and shoved that down my pants. My celly did the same, and now we have chopped onions floating in pickle juice. You don’t know how amazing pickles are until you go to prison. They go with everything that is not a dessert, and their juice is our refrigerator. 


William Myrl (18)

Monday, July 27, 2015

William Myrl; Letters to No One (17)

July 23, 2015
Dear No One,
There is a problem. My music player is broken. Instead of complaining about the truly awful word processor in its email app, I'm going to have to complain about having to type this letter on the kiosk. The kiosk is a computer bolted to the wall in the pod, encased in slate gray plastic of terrible durability, sheathed in shiny Plexiglas. We have to log onto it to do all of our email and music stuff, and the logins are limited to twenty minutes, separated at 1 hour intervals, up to three times a day. If it were not so a few dedicated souls could lock the thing down all day. As it stands it is occupied virtually every minute of our pod rec.
My player stopped working with the last update, very sad. It flashes onto the boot-up screen but never actually manages to load the OS. I miss my euphonious noises. The problem may not be fixable remotely, in which case I will have a few months of silence and despite ahead of me. Woe and lamentations. Until then I am forced to click clack away in the pod, in the mornings or deep in the night when it is less crowded. The emails will be shorter, as I am not a profoundly skilled typist.
In other news, the rec supervisor is quitting, so all the things I’ve said about starting a band are moot moot moot. Last time we lost a rec guy the programs were all shut down for six months. I am not enthused. That job I mentioned; it’s odd. My friend Jack works as the clerk for the tailor shop. They make the suits and uniforms this place desires. He keeps the books. He was summoned to the job because they heard about his educated demeanor and soothing British accent, I presume. But he is a short timer, so they need a backup clerk. They usually hire in house for this kind of thing, but most of the people who work there don't know how to coax the fairies inside computers into making the lights go on. That or they have personality deficiencies that make them unlikely candidates. I know that I would be a master clerker, and the entry test Jack described to me is laughably simple. Make a memo, use excel... Everyone else will get first shot at it, naturally, but if they don't succeed I will have a chance to weasel my way in there. Is it still nepotism if we're not related and I'm better qualified than everyone else? He told me to keep this under my hat, which I have. Telling you doesn't count because we don't travel in the same social circles. I will know in a couple of weeks whether I have a shot.

William Myrl (17)

William Myrl; Letters to No One (16)

Dear No One,
Today is my birthday. As a general rule, I am not a fan of these. I am twenty-six now, and I was nineteen when I was arrested. It means I am closer to my release date, naturally, though still not close. Stronger is the feeling that another year is gone and I will not have it back. Again, the primary hardship of imprisonment is not any individual discomfort or experience; it is being deprived of the life you would have lived were you not in prison. Imagine if prison really were a summer camp, and you stayed there for years, or forever. Actually imagine it. People bring up the summer camp thing like it’s a desirable outcome. I’ve been to summer camp. Living there would be horrible. Anywho...
I sang a little this morning. The band room is the size of a large closet with a drum set in it. Jark and I went over there with first period movement, got with the group that actually belonged, and hung up our IDs like we were a part of that group. The CO (Corrections Officer) that patted us down doesn't keep perfect track of who's in the bands, and the rec supervisor was elsewhere. I have never auditioned for anything or sung into a microphone. Before I started up “Hallelujah” (Rufus Wainwright) my calf muscles started spasming. This has not happened to me before. I was literally quaking in my boots. It passed. I did the first stanza (I think calling them verses and choruses is a bother. Stanza and refrain for me) and I wasn't bad, I think. I know I could have done better. Jark did the beginning of “Demons”. Then the singer worked with us to back him up on “Rude”, which is a fun song. We made progress, but were kicked out early on account of not supposed to have been there. The rec supervisor was in a good mood, so he didn’t give us charges. (Unauthorized area, a 200 series, and therefore not that serious.) He gave us a bit of a talking to, and we went back to our housing. So kind of like summer camp, yeah.
My celly cooked me a birthday meal. Ramen noodles and sausage and cheese, (both the kind we buy on commissary and the kind we smuggle back from our trays in the chow hall.) It also has some kind of beef in it that he bought on the "holiday pack". It’s like shopping at a gas station. He doesn't have functioning saliva glands or teeth, so he tends to waterlog what he cooks and deride any regular food as dry. This meal wasn't like that, because he made it early in the day and expected that we wouldn't eat it all at once. He kept suggesting that I put more water in it before I reheat it. If I was reheating spaghetti, would I put more water in it first? Maybe you would. I don't know.
Jark talked to the bandleader at chow, doesn't look like we'll get in because it's too close to the performance. Also he's a ditherer who can't focus on the essence of things, but only the appearance of complexity that he desireth not. I’m going to try to catch the singer on the rec yard tonight to get his take on things. I’m going to chivvy him into coaching me regardless of whether I get in their group. It’ll be fun. He’s amenable.
BTW someone told me today that I might be recommended for a good job sometime in the next couple of weeks. Hush, hush. Tell no one.
So how about that Bill Cosby? It's a horrible story, and also educational. There is something called the halo effect. It refers to the tendency we have to see people as all good or all bad. First impressions are so powerful partially because they establish a default. It requires effort or extreme information to overcome that default impression. When a person we like does something we don't like, they are viewed less harshly than they would be if we hadn't liked them in the first place. It seems like common sense, and it is, but the extrapolations can take us to unusual places. Good people are all good, and bad people are all bad. Bill Cosby is a beloved and respected moral authority, and therefore we are less likely to believe negative stories about him. Is this a bad thing? The famous are more open to false accusation than average people because they are known by more people than the average person, and they have more reasons to be targeted. Attacking a famous person can give us a taste of fame, it can win us monetary reward. It does happen, false stories and claims, so shouldn't they be given the benefit of the doubt? Well, ideally, everyone should be given the benefit of doubt, and be innocent until proven guilty. Claims, however, must still be investigated. In Cosby's case, they were not. Accusations were ignored because Cosby was Cosby, and Cosby was a priori a person who did not drug women to have sex with them. Because of his public persona, he was, in many minds, immune to such claims until the evidence was overwhelming. Now, they want to take away his medals and honors. Now, when he is spoken of, it is only in reference to the scandal. He is no different, he has not changed, but his halo is gone. His shows are being pulled from syndication. Are they no longer entertaining? It is an attempt at correction for the victims who were so long ignored. A nice sentiment that misses the point. All good and all bad is not a realistic way to judge human beings. Cosby almost certainly committed the crimes he was accused of, though he has not yet been convicted by a court of law. That does not mean he wasn't funny, or that the things he said about pound cake weren’t true. I hope his victims find some solace in the proceedings to come, though what was done to them cannot be undone. The halo effect hits both ways. Bad things are all bad, like those two guys who escaped from a New York prison, like anybody who commits a serious crime and is committed. Even after they are released they will be watched, lose many of their rights, and a black mark put on all future job applications. They may not ever be whole people again.
Yours, William Myrl (16)