Sunday, September 18, 2016

William Myrl; Letters to No One (68)

Dear No One,

I didn't finish the Republic, and I can't imagine a reason why I would. People shouldn't read Plato, they just shouldn't, except as an example of how not to argue. He isn't necessary for that though, you could get into politics and listen to the same contortionist rhetoric today that was invented long before Rome started being interesting. I made an effort because a student asked me to, but I can only go so far. I was starting to feel the same kind of upset I get from reading young earth creationism propaganda material. 

We lost someone else at the shop, they were making an unauthorized clothing repair. The strange bit is that he wasn't caught in the act, but trying to carry it out. They occasionally select a few of us to be strip searched before we can leave. Its perfunctory. Two COs have to be present while you are stripped, so whoever isn't first is left outside the little room with no one watching. He could have disposed of the garment, or even just set it aside, without issue. Instead, he waited with it in his clothes, waited for his turn. I imagine he was panicking, and not thinking. There's a trashcan within a pace of where he must have been standing. 

So I'm sitting here listening to a band called Cream n' Chrome, of all things, and waiting for the Americas Got Talent finale. More importantly, Mr Robot is on tonight. You should give it a try. 

I read Darkness Visible, by William Styron, another book recommended to me in the context of an interview. It's brief, pretty, and dramatic. One can take it as a happy omen that his swollen descriptions of depression seemed far away to me, he repeats, as I often have, that there is an insurmountable incommunicability to the illness. He was a famous literary presence, and an alcoholic who quit late in life. Defeating his addiction probably helped bring about the episode that nearly defeated him, and taking the wrong medication to help him sleep. He talked about depression being a humdrum and inadequate term for the disease, and I am inclined to agree. But any word is prone to misunderstanding, and increasing misuse over time. I still would rather they hadn't changed "manic depression" to "bipolar". Much of the stigma he and others faced, has been meliorated.

 It's 2016, and Demi Levato, one of Disney's pop princesses, appears in public health messages about living with bipolar disorder. Famous persons still commit suicide, Styron lists a number, but their struggles are openly acknowledged by the media instead of hidden. Part of that is interest mongering, but I believe it can also serve a purpose. Robin Williams' illness wasn't broadcast during his life or in his career. Perhaps it should have been. An unacknowledged disorder can be the most dangerous kind.

Styron, I think, did eventually kill himself, a sad end to a mixed story. He was eighty years into the game.


William Myrl

Thursday, September 8, 2016

William Myrl; Letters to No One (67) - Kneading Plato part III

Dear No One,

Phaedo is the dialogue that covers the death of Socrates, his last words with friends, nattering away until they reach the hour appointed for him to drink poison. His closeness to death makes the afterlife an excellent topic for their discussion.

According to Socrates, the philosopher must always be in pursuit of death and dying, because he abstains from worldly things, and seeks the pure essence of concepts and truth. Physical pleasures are to be despised, because to have pure knowledge of anything we must have quit of the body. There are echoes of eastern philosophies in Plato's writings, and I wonder how familiar he was with them, and whether they were plagiarized.

If the body and the world are corrupt, and there is such a thing as a soul, then why not commit suicide? Socrates has an answer for this (he has an answer for everything), and it is that we are the property of the gods, and therefore have no right to self destruct. This is a very strange position for him to take, given his own proximity to suicide, but like all of Socrates other hypocrisies, this issue not addressed. In the dialogues, nothing Socrates says is ever criticized in earnest, because he is the mouthpiece of the author, and the author is the only person in the room.

How do we know that there is such a thing as a soul, and that it persists after death? That is solved quite handily with the baseless asseveration that opposites always create each other, and that as death is the opposite of life, death must create life, and visa versa. So there must be a soul that exists before the body- I honestly don't know how that connection is made. Someone asked me whether I wasn't enjoying Plato because it was difficult to understand. Let us be clear, Plato's dialogues are not difficult to understand. In order for it to be difficult to understand a thing it must be at least possible to understand it. Unalloyed nonsense is not difficult to understand, it is just nonsense.

The soul is immortal because it is invisible, and all of the invisible realm is immortal. The soul is a harmony, and a harmony can allow no disharmony within itself. The soul is immortal, and immortality cannot suffer death, therefore the soul can never die. He goes on and on, this Socrates, before he finally kills himself with hemlock (because the opinions of the many don't matter, unless they sentence you to death, in which case they become the law, and you cannot break the law without destroying society and being hated by all men who love good, which makes suicide okay).

Plato's arguments tend to revolve around the realm of pure concepts, where words and ideas have an unchanging existence outside of and above the petty material world. He defines a word, like good or immortal, in a given way, and then says that we must behave in accordance with these words, reality must adhere to these words and to their perfect natures, or else we are not lovers of knowledge and true philosophers. 

Mystical claptrap is as old as mankind, and he is quite accomplished in the field of pretending to be wise. The more that I read, the more bored I become, and the more confounded. How can a literate person be exposed to Plato, read his whole body of work even, and conclude that it is something worth doing, that it is something worth recommending to others? His characters debate back and forth, bandying jabberwocks, like the emperor's attendants discussing the fineness and variety of his invisible (and therefore immortal) panoply. 

I'm not trying to be mean, I don't think Socrates and his creator are valuable or interesting enough to attack. They are ancient peoples, plagued with all the ignorance of the ancients, and they serve well as intellectual curiosities. Why do we hold them up as anything more than that? What kind of mental gymnastics must we undertake to read this collection of weird assertions and perceive them as profound?


William Myrl 
Letters to No One

William Myrl; Letters to No One (66) - Kneading Plato part II

Dear No One,

After the Apology comes Crito. 

This is a dialogue between Socrates and his friend Crito who has come to persuade him to escape prison and evade his sentence of death. Socrates refuses, and they argue back and forth, but like nearly all of the characters in these dialogues, Crito uses most of his lines to agree wholeheartedly with whatever Socrates happens to be saying. Contrary ideas are abandoned as soon as they are proposed, as if they had an understanding with the great philosopher all along and merely wished to hear him put their own beliefs into words for them.

Crito begins by telling Socrates that he cannot possibly allow him to die in prison, because then all men will think badly of him for not trying to help his famous friend. This is, like much of what you will read in the dialogues, not a thing that any actual person would say, except as a joke. Socrates' response is that the opinions of the many are not to be regarded, only the judgments of the good. Not a bad piece of advice, with the understanding that Socrates himself doesn't regard the opinions of anyone but himself. Why is it that the fact that Socrates can't lose an argument is taken as a sign of his intelligence, rather than his obstinance?

In any case, the philosopher cannot allow anyone to help him escape his sentence, because doing so would violate the law, and he cannot violate any laws, because to violate a law is to violate the social contract that allows men to live together in society. If he did betray himself by leaving, it would also be a betrayal of his family, who would have to live without him or go with him and therefore be deprived of Athens, the only city in the world worth living in. In exile, any government would see him as the treasonous enemy that he was for having broken the laws of another country.

There is nothing about his position that is not ridiculous, so I will talk about something more interesting. The Socratic method, the method by which he reaches his many risible conclusions, is in need of analysis.

Socrates asks people to set their own terms, to define an idea related to what they are talking about, and then picks at that definition until his opponent is forced to agree that his original statement leads to absurd conclusions, or it supports Socrates position. It works because his opponents are all fictional straw men, and because language is ambiguous, and he exploits that ambiguity. He defines a good life as one in which no wrong is done, defines escaping prison as wrong, and finds escaping prison to be therefore impossible if he is to live a good life. All the while, Crito says whatever Socrates would want him to say, nodding or shaking his head as appropriate for a puppet. 

Human beings are not internally coherent. What this means is that our beliefs would not all agree with each other, if they were laid out all at once. Most of the time, when we are asked what we believe about a given issue, we fabricate our beliefs on the spot, rather than storing those beliefs in a memory bank that checks behind itself. It's more efficient, and it allows us to hold multiple conflicting beliefs at any given moment. 

The statements we make about our beliefs are not iron clad, they do not stand alone against scrutiny, but require caveats and codas to support them. When we have a conversation, it is difficult, impossible, to hold everything that is said perfectly in mind, topics bounce about, statements are amended or forgotten, and no one changes heart on any subject they feel strongly about. You can try the Socratic method on anyone you care to; if you keep asking questions they will eventually contradict themselves. This does not make you, or Socrates, clever, it's simply a fact that humans are not good logical calculators, and we have limited RAM. 

Socrates argues from the general (but is not life, but a good life, to be chiefly valued?) to the specific (if I disobeyed the law I would not have a life to be chiefly valued) in a convoluted and contrived fashion, and he is only capable of doing so because Plato is the one writing the story. A tenth grade seminar student would be able to cut him short. 

You may accuse me of reading Plato with an eye jaded by concepts modern students take for granted. Plato didn't have our advantages. Of course he didn't, and that's exactly why we shouldn't take him seriously. Be aware of him, mention him in a history course, fine- but stop buying into the conceit that he was prophesied to be wise. Perhaps he was wise then, and it was a sadder age. We do not live in that age any longer, and what was impressive then is not impressive now.

Plato decides that he must kill himself because he believes killing himself makes him the better man, the best of men. He refuses to live in a world where he is not right, where he cannot live by exactly his terms. I'm sure there are people who think this is nobility. I think that it is cowardice.


William Myrl

Letters to No One

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

William Myrl; Letters to No One (65) - Kneading Plato, part I

Dear No One,

One of the medical students suggested reading Plato. He told me he would bring Plato's anthologies with him onto a desert island. I wanted to know what he saw in it, so I checked out a collection from the library.

Classics can be difficult reading, translations, archaic language, unfamiliar names and references to bygone idioms all contribute to that difficulty. Ancient philosophy is actually smoother going than its modern counterpart, as there isn't a logic equation in sight. Plato's arguments can be convoluted, but they can be parsed with a little patience. There is a mystique about his work, a near sanctity, that prevents people from examining his words as they would if he were not Plato.

The pretension of wisdom is a pet peeve of mine. My apologies, No One, for what is to follow.

The Trial of Socrates

We had to read it in high school, and it's the most famous of Plato's works. It's also one of the most readable. A fine place to begin.

Socrates defends himself against a number of charges, but not before he seeks to prove to the audience that he is smarter than any of them. The oracle at Delphi prophesied that he would be the wisest man in the world. He came to believe that it was true, he says, because he went to all sorts of men (not women, of course) who were said to be wise and discovered that they all possessed the same flaw. They had opinions on matters they were not qualified to have opinions on. 

Socrates, on the contrary, knew that he knew nothing, and was therefore the wisest of men. Take a moment here. Socrates is chastising others, calling their reputations into question, as well as crowning himself wisest, because other people he happens to come upon in the city he won't leave have opinions about matters they are not qualified to have opinions on. This from a man who opines at every opportunity, on every subject, who believes himself to have the finest insight into every art and puzzle, and always insists on the last word. He surrounds himself with sycophants, and rambles on about his humble nature, being but the gadfly of Athens, but betrays himself with his actions. He is humble, yes, and knows the limits of his knowledge, and yet he will not bow his head to any assembly, or admit to any possibility of his own ignorance. 

Those of you who have read the Apology, as well as Plato's other popular fictions, may scour them as you will for lines that disprove my assertions. You will find them, and thereby prove my point; Socrates is a hypocrite. He says all manner of humble things, he is kind and generous with his words, and all of that is belied by his actual actions and beliefs. I cannot emphasize enough, Socrates calls himself the wisest man in the world because only he knows that he knows nothing. Taken out of context, its a very pithy statement. What it actually means is less dramatic or striking, a wise person is aware of the limits of their own knowledge. Even a casual reading of the dialogues should be enough to convince you that Socrates is not that wise person.

The Apology is Socrates' defense against trumped up non crimes that you could apparently be put to death for in ancient Rome. Atheism and corrupting the youth of Athens stood out to me.To paraphrase his defense against the charge of atheism: "I can't possibly be an atheist, I talk about the gods all the time."


His defense against the charge of corruption-"I can't possibly be corrupting the youth of Athens, because if my accusers were good people, they would have stopped me from corrupting the youth already, and they say they are good people, but they haven't stopped me; therefore, I am not corrupting the youth."

Absolutely no foolin', that is his argument. 

Also, he says, "If I had been corrupting the youth all this time, the youth I corrupted a generation ago would be here to accuse me now, but they are not, and therefore I am not corrupting the youth."

That's how corruption works in my book.

Socrates takes many pages to say these simple things, but they are what he says.

What shocked me the most about the Apology was how chummy Socrates appears to be with death. He acknowledges only two possibilities following the end of life, an eternal rest, or a Dumbeldorian "next great adventure." This implies a failure of the imagination at the very least. I won't dwell on this subject here, as Crito and Phaedo address it more fully, as well as the arrogance that causes him to choose death over life. 

My point, if I have one, is that nothing Socrates argues is exceptionally insightful. He philosophizes at an advanced high school level. Teenagers do better on internet message boards.

If Socrates is noteworthy because of the age in which he wrote, because of his antiquity, then wonderful, but let's not pretend the words themselves are more sagacious because they were a temporal anomaly. No one watches black and white televisions because they were amazing for their time.


William Myrl

Monday, August 29, 2016

William Myrl; Letters to No One (64)

Dear No One,

They are giving me Effexor now, mild side effects include a general feeling of wonkiness whenever I yawn. It doesn't matter to me what brand of pill I take, I'm just glad they're free. Psychotropics are the only kind of medication they don't make you pay for. There is a copay for everything else, life threatening to merely inconveniencing conditions, chronic or acute. Lobbying comes to the rescue once again, otherwise I would be liable for all my mental health bills and forever accruing an unbridgeable debt, or else not recieving treatment. American prisons are well behind other first world countries in their humanitarian efforts, but they're quite good historically, I mean, compared to Alcatraz or the Bastille.

Some people are still getting welbutrin, and the market is going wild. One stamp per hundred milligrams was once the going rate. Now, a two hundred milli pill can demand a five stamp tag. Madness. The sad fact is that prisoners can and will abuse any kind of medication you give them. The new stuff, Effexor, is just as abusable, for a different high. The moral question becomes whether preventing that abuse is worth refusing to treat those people who can be helped by the drugs being targeted. There are plenty of antidepressants on the market, but how many are there that can't be snorted or chewed for a briefly altered state? I'm not a junkie, so I don't see the appeal in snorting welbutrin or chewing up a tablet that makes me want to vomit, but there are quite a lot of people who feel differently.

Been working on my submissions for PEN prison writing, tidied up the drama scene today. I hope my other submission are more to their tastes this year, and I wish it wasn't going to be eight months before I hear whether I get another prize. Trying to be strategic about these things, my fantasy novels haven't really taken off (Mythopoeia and the Riven Shield, Dragon's Summer), so I'm containing myself to being a prison guy talking about prison stuff for a while. 

I've signed up for another penpal site. The first one,, won me nothing but advertisements from other businesses looking to bilk me. The new site,, has a reasonable search function, and the guy who introduced me to it has gotten a few good hits. "Struck", is the term my people (the incarcerated) apply to those who the ads work for. As in "he struck, X number of interesting people are now corresponding with him." I make things boring.
Don't be jealous, No One, I'm perfectly happy with our relationship, I just want to also write someone who writes back.


William Myrl

Letters to No One

William Myrl; Letters to No One (63)

Dear No One,

Work was weird today. I spent most of it daydreaming, which is normal, but we also did an SOV. This is when the guys pick an item code and I get to time all the processes for the actual tailoring. We did a non insulated officer coverall, very involved by the standard of our work area, a lot of operations. Normally, SOVs are done without any timings, we just fiddle with the numbers from the previous paperwork. However, none of these coveralls had been done before, so I had the pleasure of watching two pair being made. Clerkin' it up.

Funny story, the asatru people and the white folks gang don't always get along, and their respective leaders got into a lil fisticuffs not long ago. When I say white folks gang, mind you, I mean these fellas who aren't technically affiliated with any official chapter of the white folks gang but who pretend that they are anyway. So they fought in the cell and one side was embarrassed. A member of the embarrassed side went and talked to a lieutenant (of the prison, not the faux gang) about what had happened. The two leaders got a call into the principals office, and were told they wouldn't have to go to detention if they kept the peace between their respective groups. Also, they were told the third guy was not to be touched, and if he was, they would pay for it. So that's why it's believed the third guy tattled on his own imaginary family. Awkward. 

A week or three passes, and the third guy is missing from the shop. He hit someone in the head with a lock; we can buy them to secure our property boxes. They're not really hefty, but they're hard, and they can crack a skull. So some other guy gets a trip to the hospital, and the third guy is shipped off the compound. The place quiets down again, not that it was ever deafening, and a thing that didn't have to be a thing fades into the past.This isn't a violent prison, as these things go, but it has its moments.


William Myrl

Letters to No One

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

William Myrl; Letters to No One (62)

Dear No One, 

Let me tell you of Quixote, he of the cleft chin and heavy brows. Dark with spanish blood, attenuated by cynicism, he holds court in the chow hall like a deaf sophist, having ears only for his own philosophy. Our first meeting was in passing, someone pointed me out to him as being of a character rich with words. He proceeded to test me in the entryway, asking me to define "puissant" and "bedight". Afterwards, I referred to him as "old fantasy novels guy" for several weeks instead of learning his name, because only in such novels are those words found. As it happens, his philology is greater than mine, extending into obscure medical terminology, where I am weak. At the time, however, flush with victory, I did not know this.

We began talking on the rec yard, arguing over religion until the horn would sound. It was enjoyable, though quickly did it become apparent that there were some things about which he could not reason effectively. Everyone I spoke to about him insisted he was a sociopath, but I disagreed. Its too easy to label people that way, there was something wrong with the way Quixote interacted with other humans, that does not a sociopath make. The realm of disorders is rich with variety, and Quixote was proud owner of more than a few. 

Never in the same pod, our interactions were generally brief. In the chow hall, his conversation was an endless font of bad puns and unasked for anecdotes, he could fill any gap in any discourse with the ease of lunacy. After a time, the direction of his intentions and plots, which were multifarious and many, crystallized into an emotional seduction of a woman he should not have been pursuing. Social boundaries and the perception of risk not being his greatest powers, he wrote her love letters, thinly concealed. Much to my amazement and the amazement of everyone who knew him, nothing went terribly wrong for quite a while. His unprofessional though admittedly nonphysical relationship with this woman, whom he referred to as "M'lady" in all our talks, became apparent to other inmates and some COs. We knew that it would come to this. 

Quixote has been in segregation now for over a month, "under investigation". He hasn't received any charges, but he may be transferred off of the compound anyway. He recently wrote a request to the tailor shop complaining that the scrubs in "jail" were not designed to fit "proportional HUMAN BEINGS" but rather someone who "had been "stretched upon some medieval torture device". It was addressed to the "great and mighty tailor shop" and his occupation was listed as "freedom fighter". He signed it "oleogyniphiliacly yours".

I hope that I see him again.

William Myrl 

Letters to No One 62

William Myrl; Letters to No One (61)

Dear No One,

Totemo tired, don't want to sleep. I have the complete rules of magic the gathering, its two hundred pages fit into twenty five pieces of paper thanks to my genius family. Its amazing how precise it is, legislative in its verbosity, I enjoy that sort of thing. There are still disputes, because of hearsay and card text hermenuetics, but it makes me feel good to have it. I want to make my own card game one day, built top down, so that it doesn't end up being so unwieldy. The mechanics of games are often more interesting to me than the act of playing them.

At work, I have been cutting up pants. Today, there was a blue bin full. There isn't a way to convert that into a standard unit of measurement, it ended up being six or seven trash bags of shredded clothing. Little me and my scissors, ruining what the shop has made. That's the end of the assembly line, a young man disposing of the product. Because of the logistics of cutting large numbers of patterns, the production line ends up with extra panels almost every day. Rather than counting, they make everything that's laid on the rack. When the pants, jumpers, what have you, reach the shipping table, the extras are separated out and brought to the clerks. We put them in drawers, they have built up for years. The idea being that the extras can be added to future orders, and thus not wasted. In practice, they sit in the drawers so long that we stop using the fabrics they were made from. 

Lately, we've been cleaning house, and it falls to the Jr clerk to do the grunt work. The scissors have chafed a bit of skin off of my fingers, so I started wearing a glove to give my hand some padding. We took advantage of the plant manager being out this week, he approves of cleaning out the attic, but he doesn't have the heart to see all those worthless scrubs destroyed. He will pick out sets for us to put back into storage if given the chance. 

The clothing, and the labor necessary to manufacture it, are both basically worthless. So this isn't as crazy as it seems. The plant isn't supposed to hold onto that many officer pants anyway, pretend security risk. There was a farrago some years back revolving around a couple of missing zippers. Now they all have to be signed for at evey step along the line. We have more bureaucracy than you'd think, just not in the matter of keeping track of extras.

I'm on a new drug, they took away welbutrin because too many people were abusing it. I'm not sure what I'm talking, the psychiatrist told me, but that kind of detail doesnt stick easily. Knowog the name doesn't change what I'm taking. I'm having my first ever psychotropic side effects. This morning, about an hour after taking it, I started experiencing queasiness, which persisted periodically throughout the day. Yawned a lot, and felt weird. Not good weird. Its only day one, so I'm going go give it a couple of weeks to see if symptoms persist or worsen. Hopefully, they will subside as my body adjusts to the new chemical intake. Its an antidepressant, Effexor? I don't know, the lithium has never given me any issues, I was due.

William Myrl

Letters to No One 61

William Myrl; Letters to No One (60)


Dear No One,

Once again, listening to Utada Hikaru, I dither over what to tell you. Two people were fired this week from the shop. A captain rushed into our place of work all in a tizzy because the cameras had caught someone making grey shorts. It's what they worry about these days, contraband shorts being worn on the yard. This isn't just a shop issue, but a matter of significance to security. Correctional officers, by and large, are hella bored. Commissary sells a pair of gym shorts for sixteen dollars, I'm not certain what a pair of homemade twills goes for, less than that. The man caught wasn't making anything, he was fixing his own shorts, or modifying them to have pockets, something. He was fired anyway, attracting the ire of security being his greatest sin. The next day, someone else was dismissed for having made himself a wallet for his address book. It was well over a year old, and he'd carried it about in his back pocket since its inception. Now though, in the midst of such great happenings, its sinister nature was revealed to them.

I don't mind my job, but every day I am reminded that I'm wasting my time. I like making my own money (sixty two cents an hour) and having ramen noodles and ramen noodle accouterments in my box, calling home more, buying music more, little luxuries though they may be. The waste is in what I don't do. It isn't really the time, there are vanishingly few people who actually don't have enough time to do the things they want to or should want to do. The commodity far more valuable than hours (which are empty by themselves) is the willpower to do something useful with them. That willpower is finite, and though it regenerates, one often finds that it has regenerated only enough to press on through another day of mundane drudgery. (Ego Depletion, in psychology) So my writing suffers, and I eat more trash food, and I exercise less. 

Communication is easier to pay for, and so are grey gym shorts. Its mostly nonsensical social pressures that keep me employed. I don't want to go through the process of quitting. Books go unwritten so that I don't have to feel awkward, and so I can enjoy the privileges already enumerated on the balance of my sixty dollar paycheck. Future discounting is the phrase for when you do something easy now because the future benefits of doing the not easy thing feel so insubstantial. 
I watch myself behaving like an NPC every day. Wish there was something I could do about it. It isn't as if this is just a me problem. Everybody's an NPC sometimes, or most of them. Recognizing you have a problem is the first step toward recovery.

William Myrl

Letters to No One 60

William Myrl; Letters to No One (59)

Dear No One,

I used to think I was good at chess. In jail, I would play often, and I was always one of the better matches. The last pod I occupied had a lot of beginners, and playing against them inappropriately magnified my confidence. You might have found me skimming a book or drawing while I played, taking a moment to glance at the board and making my move, usually winning. Again, it wasn't a measure of my own facility with the game that this was a common outcome, but a reflection of my constrained environment. A larger pool of players would have rectified any misunderstanding as to my prowess, as it has now. 

Writing in prison puts me in a similar position. Naturally, it is my belief that an immense potential germinates in me, and my exposure to others with a penchant for wordplay reinforces this belief. It cannot escape my notice, however, that my confreres in delinquency are, by and large, ungifted in the realm of the talent I most prize.It is difficult to judge ones own writing, fiction in particular, because our work is to our own taste. I am my first and last reader, and I don't send a thing away until it is essentially done. The feedback I receive from family, mostly my mother, is after the fact.

PEN has a mentoring program where they set you up with a grad student to correspond with a few times and improve your writing thereby. I can but imagine the classroom somewhere, the students asked to sign up to play editor to a prisoner as a part of their grade. I suppose it isn't much different than the students signing up to sit in and ask questions during our sessions with the institutional psychiatrist. A letter arrived yesterday informing me that there would be a total of four exchanges, including the introductions, at which point the mentoring will be concluded.

I had no idea this program existed when I entered the PEN prison writing contest, and I am any number of units of excitement more enthused about this aspect of my minor victory than about the check for fifty dollars wending its way toward my mother. I have some material to send my prospective mentor set aside already, it will be the first instance of an outside and professionally qualified response to my crap, and I look forward to it.

Chess is a game that takes years and thousands of hours to master, I simply haven't put in the requisite labor to be good. Writing is like that, except that I feel closer to having paid my dues.

William Myrl (Smitherman)

Letters to No One 59

William Myrl; Letters to No One (58)

Dear No One,

We used to put our signs on chairs. There weren't enough for everyone, there are never enough, wherever you go. Tan plastic success, if you lived in green and white for long you could lay claim to one. They all had marks on the back, some names, and some drawings. I opened up an ink pen and painted my sigil on the back of one once my number came around. It was a weird non system, and "my" chair was taken by a CO to be put in another pod shortly after I had baptized it. 
We didn't have music then. For a while, we could get VH1 on the television in the pod and they would do countdowns in the morning. The masses would gather, listening. People complained about the noise keeping them awake (music, after breakfast) and it was taken away. This is why we can't have nice things. 

There was a silent stretch after that. When they opened the new budding, still green and white, and shipped us over, I managed to make AGT and American Idol a regular event for a while. Awful television, but it was what we had. The main contenders on the opposing team were the guys who needed to have the E channel on at all hours of the day, praying for the chances it afforded to view Kardashians in bikinis. Also the "sports rule" guy. Its a given in many places that sporting events trump all other forms of television, because as I understand it, men are imbeciles. It was the E channel that gave me my first exposure to Firework. They premiered the music video and I nearly had a white out. If you don't like Katy Perry, you don't like life. This was also the year that Jackie Evancho was on AGT, and had the number one slot stolen from her by some crooner no one has heard of since. She does some badass PBS specials now.

We still have those chairs, different places, different faces, chairs are forever. No one marks on them here, however. It was a ridiculous custom that required a slightly more docile, and a smaller population. There was a pair of older gentlemen that used to sit behind he table closest to the wall, the back of the day room. They had bushy beards, bug hair, they'd known each other many years. Every day they waited, watching, for what I know not. It was their post, their eye both on the television and the neighborhood. Here, the old men are mostly gone from their rocking swings. They have televisions in their cells now.

William Myrl

Letters to No One 58

William Myrl; Letters to No One (57)

Dear No One, 

The problem with life is the lack of a coherent narrative. When you try to tell a story about it, the ending is superficial, circumscription by fiat. Stuff happens, and keeps happening, forever. The tale of my incarceration, as I relate it to you in my disjointed fashion, has a beginning but no end. One day it will end, and that ending will have absolutely nothing to do with any of the thousands of stories mucking about in the middle. Telling a story, one trouble of many is defining its salience, what is important and what is not. In jail, nothing is important. I mean its important to talk about nothing, because nothing is what happens, a lot.

When you're going to court, and there is a good bit of that for someone with charges in three jurisdictions, holding cells become a common experience. Some of them are small and empty, most are crowded and cramped. Hours are the usual price, though days sometimes drag by on concrete benches. You can look out and see an empty hallway, or a desk where felons like yourself can be processed. There may be a drunk tank nearby, or people being released. There is a hollow feeling, and everyone is tired. Thoughts circle, and people ask personal questions to distract themselves. It all bleeds into one mass now, whether I was alone or with others, like trying to remember every breakfast you've ever eaten. Sometimes I recited poetry in my head. The first I memorized was the Raven, my mom had to send it to me twice. They discarded the first copy because we weren't allowed to have things printed from a computer mailed to us. She had to hand write it.

I remember being so angry when the CO kept my mail the first time. I had been waiting for the poem, and they open it in front of you, then decide whether you can have it or not. You can't be angry about the big things, about being trapped, that wouldn't be healthy. Instead, we pin our hopes on trifles, stringing ourselves along from one kids meal to the next. Letters, meals, visits, television shows, new music or books; these things are buoys in dark water, and they begin to sink as soon as you take hold of them. So there is the next, and the next, until you reach land, or until you drown.

The library cart used to come around once a month, another buoy. It was never a specific day or time, and once a month was really once every four to six weeks. A library sat untouched behind plexiglass, we weren't allowed inside. They would have had to employ a librarian then.

Two books mattered that I remember. The first was a copy of Look Homeward Angel that I read to pieces, and the second was a small collection of Keats. Most of it has faded now, at my peak I memorized about two thirds of the thing - odes and sonnets mainly. This was something that couldn't be taken from me, even alone in a holding cell. Words repeated. I can recite the Raven backwards and out of order. I still do sometimes, standing in the pill line, five years gone from the jail where I learned it. The waiting doesn't stop, though the indignity of the tanks are thankfully removed, our lives are a series of waiting for things. It's the buoys again.

I've been too serious lately, I know. Next time, I'll tell you about how Spanky dressed as a baby, his sheet like a diaper, and took a shit in the middle of his cell while we all watched. Actually, that's pretty much the whole story. You couldn't look away.

William Myrl

Letters to No One 57

Thursday, May 26, 2016

William Myrl; Letters to No One (56)

Dear No One,
When I was first arrested, and I awoke, on the first day of of the first leg of my incarceration, I drank orange juice. Then I searched the bunk I was assigned and found a pen. It felt like a big thing. I didn't have any paper, but I had napkins and bathroom tissue to spare. These originals are probably at the house somewhere, my mother could find them if pressed. In the three months I spent in North Carolina before extradition I wrote around four hundred pages of fiction. Sometimes I would count the words when a thing was done, obsessing over exactly how much I would have to write for it to qualify as a novel. My hand would cramp, I would get angry and pace. When the words wouldn't come I would get headaches staring at the page. The trick I learned then has proved reliable over the years. Lay down and cover your eyes, let your mind wander and relax. It is rare that I do this for half an hour without being rewarded. Its trying to force the story out that causes whatever fantasy generating mechanism I have in me to clog. It was a single cell, there were few distractions. The library cart was not tremendous, and the television in the pod was silent. My eyes weren't good enough to read the subtitles. I've told you about some of the people already, we played chess or talked about pseudo-legal sounding nonsense. Writing was what mattered, and every work felt like the one, the one that would change things, or somehow redeem me. I burned out a story as quickly as I could, and sent them home and bothered my family about doing something with them, already working on the next. This continued in the next jail, sometimes more or less. They got longer (finished story page counts in order as I remember them-149, 200, 186, 250(epic poem10k lines), 225, 275, 320(the Mystic Seasons books all averaged about 300) , 350 (M1: The Riven Shield) ,400+ (M2: The Theft of a Star, and current M series books)) and more coherent. Always, I continued thinking, this is going to be the one. You have to think that way, if you want to keep going, and if you feel you don't have another reason to keep being a person except for what you can make, if that is what gives you value and nothing else.
Being unusually goal oriented is one of the symptoms of a manic episode, and whether my own eccentric need to complete arbitrary tasks I assign myself is related to that or not, it is what kept me trying.
One project bled into the next. When I talk to other would be writers I tell them that the first thousand pages is for practice. They probably think I'm exaggerating, really I'm only picking a number that sounds striking. I stopped feeling the compulsion to keep a writing calendar in 2015. I had been counting handwritten pages (a shade over 6000 of them), but there was no way for me to reliably measure emails by pages. Also, I no longer feel the same need to justify my continued existence via vegetable pulp product volume.
I don't write as much as I used to, but my work is more focused now. What the words are used for is more important than how many of them there are. 
This week, something strange happened. Reed magazine does its annual print run, my essay included. It isn't a book deal, but its closer to one than I have been. Two nights ago I received a letter from PEN. Remember when I told you I didn't win anything? I was incorrect. They gave me the Dawson prize for my drama submission. I don't know what that means (who is Dawson? why does he have a prize?), and it doesn't matter. It was a small but resurrected dream.
In my box there was an envelope labeled "when you win." In the envelope was a bag of gummy worms someone had given me out of their Christmas holiday package. Late that night, I lay in my bunk listening to Hikaru Utada, eating stale, stale worms out of a plastic tumbler, smiling.

William Myrl

William Myrl; Letters to No One (55)

Dear No One,
I enjoy romantic comedies. USA showed one called That Awkward Moment recently, it had Zac Efron and others. The lead love interest wasn't an actress I'm familiar with. She was oddly lovely, or lovely odd. There are certain faces that are better for being quirked, slightly mismatched, and I'm a fool for overlarge eyes. Perfect faces are deserving of admiration, and imperfect faces of love. It was an unusual movie in that the protagonist, Mr. Efron, had no past. His deficiencies as a human being were never explained, though they were naturally overcome by the end of the film. Have you ever seen it? Do you know who that girl is? 
Bears (the girl I was with when I was a real person) used to have us watch romcoms together. You've Got Mail was a favorite. Ever notice how overplayed the publishing industry is in movies and books? It diverges strongly from occupational base rates, but who would writers write about if not people like themselves? 
In jail, there is a solid block of the population that believes itself to be in relationships. These fellows are watching a movie all their own, and are all too dependent on what flickers across the screen. Some of them are married, it doesn't really matter. When a man and a woman vow to remain together forever, through better and through worse, they don't use their imaginations. Incarceration is an acid that dissolves all manner of bonds, even as it creates new ones. There are some relationships that endure, and they generally begin after incarceration, by mail, with a partner who knows what they're getting and what they're not. Proximity is the foundation of social interaction, its a simple if somewhat emasculating thought. Geography plays a greater role in networking than our own choices do, and prison is the heart of nowhere.
Bears and I, we're still friends, if distant ones. I've been under arrest for more than twice as long as we were together, and I don't have another reference point for relationships. The fact that I hear from her at all after so many years is amazing to me. It's not something I could have reasonably asked for, all that time ago.
There are certain parts of oneself that have to learn to quiet themselves, if we are to avoid unrest. You learn to live without what may once have been considered necessary. It is not a temporary condition, as so many of us will never be anywhere but here. I will go home one day, and people of my good fortune have difficult imagining choosing to go on if we knew there was nothing but this. Humans don't really make a choice to live though, they just keep living, with or without hope.
Everyone is beautiful in movies involving Zac Efron, and I wish it were that way in life. The world is often uglier than the stories we tell about it, and its endings are slower too.

William Myrl (Smitherman)

William Myrl; Letters to No One (54)

Dear No One,
The last visit I had with the head doctor, he had three students with him. We went through all the formal proceedings, introductions and telling me I can ask them to leave if I don't want to speak in front of them etc... The talker in this group is a Mr. Court. He asks about mania, I tell him its much harder for me to define than depression is, much harder to pin down, and that I wished I could make him listen to music, because that would be a better way of understanding. So though I will never see that particular fellow again, I have made a list of manic tunes for your perusal. They will come at the end of this letter.
The first person I tried to be friends with was Yi. If you have been reading these, you may have noticed a pattern. I meet someone I find interesting, become overly enthusiastic about their existence, and eventually find disappointment when they don't expand to fill the image of them I have created. Mao, Jark, and Ender are the most recent examples. When I was at Sussex, it was Sawyer. In jail, the first was Yi. He was small, kind of nezumi featured, college educated. One of the first things I heard about him was "he kind of talks like you." You know, in complete sentences. He didn't warm up to me immediately, and it was reasonable of him to be reserved. People who are overtly friendly to strangers are usually running a con. There were rumors that he had unsavory charges (not a lot of things prisoners find unsavory, so you can guess) and I'm sure people tried to take advantage of him at different times both because of that and his slender frame. His differentness. I talked to him about StarCraft to break the ice. He worked on computers in the real world, had a little business. Being in jail couldn't have helped that but who knows. I haven't thought about the guy in years, and I'm sure he's home by now.
He wrote stories, so he was also the first other inmate whose stories I read. I make it a habit now, to always read what people write. In some cases, I will probably be the only person to ever read it. The work is nearly always awful, but that isn't the point. 
He wrote a science fiction novel, a draft, about humanity's fight against telekinetic space whales. Not terrible, accounting for its incompleteness. He was developing a romance before we parted ways. It was based on his relationship with his wife, I think, and it was the better read. I wish I remembered enough about him to send him a letter, to tell him I was making progress. He used to do some light editing for me. And he gave me a honey bun for Christmas. 
We argued about a lot. He was a smart guy who believed in a young earth, and he thought gold dragons weren't the strongest of the metallic breeds in third edition dungeons and dragons. Two equally ridiculous stances. He asked me why I did what I did (my crimes were well known, when I entered green and white someone dangled a local newspaper down from the mezzanine and pointed me out), and I said, "Why does anyone do anything?" That's probably as good an explanation as I've been able to give anyone so far.
We played chess, and we were well matched at first. He kept practicing, and soon outpaced me. I'm still not very good, haven't played in a few years. Magic the gathering and DnD replaced it far and long ago. I wonder where he has gone, and what has become of him. Yi wasn't the sort to come back to a place like this when presented with the choice. These faces, they keep appearing and disappearing. Prison is a house of phantoms. If you're wondering how I'm going to tie all of this in to the mania topic, I'm not.
So here's the list, some of them stronger than others; they come in flavors, and in no particular order.

LGFUAD-Motion City Soundtrack
Lux Aeterna/Summer Overture--Clint Mansell
Radioactive--Imagine Dragons
How Far We've Come-- Matchbox 20
Teenage Dream-- Katy Perry
Firework-- Katy Perry
This is Me--Draft Kings
My House--PVRIS
Dr. Code--Yucat
Zankoku no Tenshi no Thesis--Original Evangelion opening theme
Zenchi Zennou no Ki--Yucat
Flowers in Paradise--Ouzokuband
The Protomen (Their first concept album, haven't heard it in seven years or more, and still I hear it sometimes)
The Protomen (Act II: The Father of Death)

That's all I can think of at the moment. 
Write you again soon.

William Myrl (Smitherman)

William Myrl; Letters to No One (53)

Dear No One,
The door shakes at one or two, it took longer than you would think to get my psych evaluation, and not as long as most things do for us. Three or four hours were spent in a holding cell with others going elsewhere. We had breakfast, for some reason I believe it was gravy, though it would be ludicrous to imagine I retained that detail through the years. The drive was about three hours, alone in the back of a van. There were two officers in the cab and they occasional said words to me or each other. They weren't in any way hostile, I've noticed security personnel tends to be friendliest where mental health is concerned, assuming you aren't making their jobs more difficult than they are meant to be.
We went to UVA where I was interviewed by a psychologist and a student. There were many questions, and a short written test.They were both very nice, and I failed to convey anything of value to them. I have never been comfortable with public feelings. After a couple of years practicing with the psychiatrist here my communication skills have improved, at the time, I answered them in much the same manner as I would have any stranger asking me personal questions The was diversion and distortion, a bit of bravado, and a bad habit I have never shaken of manufacturing answers to questions I have no real answer to.
For lunch, there was pepperoni pizza and coke. I ate mine alone in the interview room, and picked my nose for the camera one assumes they were observing me through. I tried to pee, failed, my shy bladder triumphing again as two officers waited awkwardly behind me in the bathroom. They must have taken my handcuffs off, I think, though the shackles remained. Wait, I know what it was. One hand was handcuffed to my belt and the other was free for eating and filling in multiple choice questions.
They asked me if I cared what other people thought of me. I said I didn't. They asked me how I would describe me opinion of myself, I said deific. They asked me what careers I might be interested in, I listed; author, actor, rock star, and politician. They noted that I didn't actually have to give an answer if I wasn't sure. Was I still nineteen then? Maybe twenty. I wonder if I had behaved differently that day would I have gotten the diagnosis I have now, would it have helped me later on. I was being defensive, the friendliest obstruction that I know. When the psychologist mentioned some of the things I talked about doing during the months leading up to my arrest sounded like depression, my reply was that maybe it sounded that way, but I wouldn't characterize it as such. It wasn't an intentional stance I was taking, just my natural resistance to sharing private things. I must have peed at some point after that, its difficult to envision making it through the three hour drive home if I hadn't.
My evaluation didn't turn up anything useful for my lawyers purposes. My mom seemed to blame the psychologist for this, really the fault was entirely mine. He did his best to label me with the presentation that I gave him. One of the officers asked me what we talked about in there for so many hours. A lot of stuff.
Today I checked out bipolar for dummies from the library. Its a waterlogged copy. The mania checklist was sought and found, because I had forgotten why I believed it of myself. So I mentally marked the boxes. Yep, still got it; maybe not a terrible case, more hypo than anything, and now neatly medicated. Still, its helpful to be reminded.
William Myrl (Smitherman)

William Myrl; Letters to No One (52)

Dear No One,
Fifth Element is one of the few movies I can watch whenever it's on. I can't explain what seperates it from more lackluster SyFy fair, it certainly doesn't break any new ground from a storytelling perspective, and it ends on a pet peeve of mine, when love is suddenly the answer to every ill. In this case, love stops a demon meteor from crashing into the earth and destroying all life in the universe. That is what happens.

I like to think that fantasy and science fiction is a metaphorical endeavor. It isn't really about Sauron and Gandalf, but what they represent. This excuse explains why the genre is so repetitive. We're not telling new or original stories, its the same tired play with the same tired dialogue each time. Some cosmologies, like Narnia and the Golden Compass, are open about their derivation. Others are less so, a little less. Villains tend to be personifications of negative emotions, hatred and anger and pain. That's why they are always so insane. Wanting to bring about the end all things isn't the crazy part, its how they go about about doing it. Voldermort's actions only make sense if you recognize him as an avatar for hatred, because hatred is stupid and can be beaten by children. Stories are rarely written as if the characters were real people. Instead, they are archetypal fill in the blanks. I'm not saying this is wrong, but it would be nice if we could fight off the tropes occasionally.

So the good emotions beat the bad ones, and love triumphs over all. That's the world as we would like it to be, where good intentions and friendship could overcome as many dark lords as you like. In reality, emotions don't make us stronger in the sense of being able to pull the sword from the stone, but they can anneal us, after a fashion. Looking at the right photograph can be torture if you let it, if you focus on all that you don't have and never will. But sifting through that pain we find some material of use. Love is what keeps our families with us, as inconvenient as we are. It is also a reason to move, to change, to build ourselves anew into something worthy of that love. Not every writer is in a literal prison, but all people struggle, and it is those struggles that are born out in the stories we tell ourselves and each other. The sincerity of a story doesn't make it readable, but other things being equal, it helps. Seeing what we want can inform us of what we are supposed to be. And if we cannot write this world into the confines of a pleasant story, we can put more of that story into ourselves, and become a thing worth writing about, and triumphing for.
Love doesn't win everything for us, it makes us want to win.

William Myrl

William Myrl; Letters to No One (51)

Dear One,
When I got back to green and white my spot had been taken, so I was in a new cell with two other people. Being the new man on the block, I got to sleep on the floor. I mentioned the jail was overcrowded. To combat this overcrowding, the uppity ups decided they would transmogrify the two man cells into three man cells by putting three men in all of them. It worked out pretty well for them, being that they could solve a problem without actually doing anything about it. Yay, America.
I'm a bit snarky today, and I'm going to break off from my narrative here a moment to talk about a personal point of vexation.
How many guys do you know who think miscegenation should be a crime? How many do you know who think the greatest threat to america is the Mexicans rising up from the south and muddying our bloodlines? Its like some straight up Harry Potter shit in here sometimes.
It isn't just the racism, that is but one flavor of the mental quidditch cup we've got going on. Have you ever been having a conversation with someone who seemed perfectly reasonable before they told you that cellphones were alien technology the government had been hiding from us since the fifties? Does anyone you share a kitchen with think dinosaurs are a trick of the devil to temp us away form the heavenly light of our creator? My cellmate supports Donald Trump unironically, because the Trump is going to make america great again. 
To clarify, I like being disagreed with, because it gives me an opportunity to disagree in return. Arguing is fun for me, and I have found a few people over the years I can have an enjoyable debate with, even if it isn't productive. For most, however, debate is impossible. I don't argue or contradict, because the moment I do I'm being condescending or trying to make them feel stupid. Instead of contradicting, I make jokes, and divert the conversation. It works, but I can still be labelled condescending because I'm not giving serious answers to their serious questions. Aiyah.
Oh, and all prisons across America are equipped with poison gas in the ventilation systems in case of martial law when we would all be executed as enemies of the state, because that couldn't go wrong for anybody. That's a pervasive one among certain populations. And don't get me started on the homophobia. 
Conspiracies abound.
So we are on lock again, my first in C building. I made it through with a minor loss, my mechanical pencil. Those are hard to come by, and I feel foolish now for begin so frugal with the lead over the last year and a half. I used it for hair, mainly. The rookie who took it came out of my cell holding that and one of my kneadable erasers. He didn't know what the eraser was. I explained that it was for highlights, and lifting graphite. He seemed less than credulous, but he took my word that it had been bought legitimately. My other one was in an unopened package on the desk. He'd searched the desk, and had to have seen it. Nice enough young man. Did he think it was plastic explosives? We'll never know. I'll miss my pencil. 
It had a good life.

William Myrl

Thursday, April 28, 2016

William Myrl; Letters to No One (50)

Dear No One,
Squim was a young man of color with a rape charge. He didn't talk to me at first, and I don't make a habit of going beyond pleasantries with most people. At some point, he discovered that I was what you would call an "active listener", nodding at all the right moments and never expressing disinterest. This is a good way to collect stories. He gave me his in driblets, and we didn't work our way around to his crime until some months later. There had been a party, and he had had sex with a girl there, as had his friend, apparently at the same time. His contention was that they, or his friend, had promised the girl drugs and then renigged. Afterward, the charges has been filed. Knowing the young man, I doubted he had intended to harm the victim, but an encounter doesn't have to be violent to be rape. Like most such cases, it is impossible to say what happened in reality. Over a game of spades someone else confided that Squim must have done something really bad to the girl for her to charge him. This fellow knew her, and he said a bottle of liquor was a sufficient bid for temporary use of her mound of Venus. There's only so much stock to be put in these kinds of statements. The whole affair is not uncommon, an unpaid bill is among the most often utilized explanations for a victim's allegations. Statistically, I imagine it must be true of some cases, but only some. Rape, like robbery, often occurs without any outward sign of savagery, as the intimidated party submits. The victims are no less victims for their quiet. 
I was taken to another county jail for a few days when I was formally indicted on my second robbery. I stayed in a holding cell for three days so I could meet my public defender there. Overall, my experience with public defenders has felt positive. It isn't that they don't want to help you, it is that they can't. Mr. Love (no kidding) really seemed to care. He met with me in a perfunctory fashion, going through all the relevant details and making sure I knew a plea deal was my only realistic option. His assistant came the next day, and I said some things to her that apparently caught his attention. He came back the third day, and we talked more. We talked about robberies, and I expressed my feeling that what I had done wasn't the same as taking from a person. He asked if that was because they were big corporations with insurance and I said not exactly. It was different because the money didn't exist while it was in the bank, that by taking money from the bank and putting it into circulation I was creating value. Note that I am not expressing my current beliefs on the matter, only recounting what was said by a nineteen year old to his lawyer at that time. I know there is no excusing my behavior, much as my cellmate was not excused because he did not feel like he was raping his victim. I had told his assistant about my writing habit, the first story I did was a parody of Dante's Inferno. He asked about it when he came back. I wasn't in a great state by then, I still wasn't acclimated to my incarceration, and moving and being in an empty holding cell for three days hadn't helped anything. They felt sympathy for me, which was nice. 
When I was taken back to my own jail, and back into intake, sadly, I wrote them a fourteen page letter and sent it out the following day. This is how I ended up getting my first psych evaluation.

William Myrl

William Myrl; Letters to No One (49)

Dear No One,
Blinky was what he sounded like. A young man with a tic, someone who would spend most of his life doing his time a year or a few at a time. Life on installment plan, is the usual phrase. He may have been there on arson, or a probation violation, or something in between. People knew him, and there were rumors that he had been raped before, but that's the sort of thing inmates say about people like him, in the same way they say people like me are gay. Its profiling, of a kind. He probably was an abuse victim, whether it started in jail or in childhood I'll never know. My first interaction with him was being taken in by a scam, though an admittedly harmless one. They passed out razors once a week so we could shave, and they took your name down so you had to turn them hack in. I wasn't going to use mine, and he said he needed an extra one to help shave his head. I had met him a few hours before, but I had a real problem with refusing small favors then, still do to an extent. So I gave him mine, and half an hour later he gave me back the pieces. It was all there, but we weren't supposed to break them. He hadn't broken his own, because he didn't want to get in trouble with the CO. When I turned in the pieces, the CO said something about destruction of state property. I wasn't ever served with the charge (institutional infractions can be written for nearly anything, not having your shirt tucked in, for example. They usually aren't.), but I was duly flustered for the evening. Some amusement was had at my expense, being a new guy, and an obviously new one at that. I was nineteen, with a freshly shaven head and an almost beard, and that wasn't the standout issue. There have been countless conversations that began with someone observing that I looked like I didn't belong. I don't get that so much anymore, maybe because I'm older, or more comfortable with my surroundings. I've never had to live in fear in these places, not really. More it is a sort of disquiet, or anxiety, that prevails when the walls close in. There was quite a bit of that at the maximum security prison I went to after jail (technically supermax, the rating system is wacky), it was difficult to relax. Here its much easier, though certain situations can cause the old tightness in my gut to come back. 
Back to Blinky. He didn't mean anything by the trick, he was just a sketchy kid. We got along well enough after razor incident. Jail time is slow time, and as the days passed I became accustomed to the routines and my place among the regulars. Intake is only a few weeks, and before I had met my first public defender I was put in green and white. It was there I had my first long term cellmate. Let's call him Squim.

Hey, I've found a new song I like. Flowers in Paradise -Ouzokuband
Tell me what you think.

William Myrl