Saturday, March 26, 2016

William Myrl; Letters to No One (44)

Dear No One,
I told Ender that this was either going to be very exciting month, or a very disappointing one. So far, disappointing has proved the champion of that duel. Recall that I entered in all four categories of the PEN prison writing contest back in September. No luck. It was a blow, but I can understand how it happened. There are thousands of entrants, thousands more pieces to cipher and judge. That my crap might be overlooked is not beyond the realm of possibility. I knew going in that my style of poetry (not free verse, but actual verse) is out of the vogue and has been for decades. My drama work was short and humorous, I doubt either quality played well. (Iambic pentameter was not requested) My short story was titled "Mel works for Satan", so we can both guess what went wrong there. I had been holding out serious hope for the nonfiction segment, my essay wasn't long, but it was highly quotable. I'm going to have my brother post my entries on the site (, so you can see what lost compared to what won. I only had a month to prepare my entries, still, expectations were dashed.
More realistic were my expectations of participating in the Washington and Lee course this year. I wrote my application seriously this time. They asked for a paragraph explaining why I wanted to be in the class.Here it is. 

I am the first member of my family not to attend college, the first not to finish high school, and the first to go to prison. These distinctions are not a source of pride, so when an opportunity arises to further my education without cost, to visit, if only in facsimile, a classroom like the ones I could have known, I am compelled to take it. I am grateful and surprised that the Washington and Lee program exists, and hopeful to have a chance to participate. I believe I could make a real contribution to the discourse of the course, as I already maintain a blog about prison life; quotidian concerns, education and mental health issues. (Letters to No One, Also, in May of this year, one of my essays on a related subject will be published in Reed magazine of San Jose University. The nature of freedom and unfreedom is a topic I can't help but be attracted to. Ten pages wouldn't be enough to hold every reason this class appeals to me, but you asked for a paragraph, so this will have to do.

What did the other people write? I am told by the inmates who work in the school that some of the people who did get in have difficulty with basic punctuation and sentence structure. I found out earlier today that I wasn't selected, so excuse any bitterness in my tone, but what criterion was the principal looking for when he made his selections? What is the point of a class if the people who will be best able to take advantage of what is offered are not allowed in? It isn't as if this is a GED class, its an elective college course that gives real credits.
Venting, venting. I've been playing a lot of Magic: the gathering, lately (The cards aren't allowed, we make our own). I can't listen to "This is Me", by Draft King, without feeling better. Damn my emotional robustness! 
William Myrl 

William Myrl; Letters to No One (43)

Let's talk about the gays. In prison, most folks are either homophobic or all too comfortable with the genitalia of other men. Earlier today, I was gunned down while speaking with my family on the phone. Gunning has a very specific meaning in this context. I was talking about magic cards with my brother and my dad when I perceived motion in my peripherals. There wasn't anyone else around the phones, it was our pods time to be outside and many prisoners had availed themselves of the opportunity. The gentlemen in cell five was standing on his toilet pleasuring himself in my direction. I turned away, because making eye contact means your into it. They actually believe this. They think that an officer who doesn't write them up immediately is in favor of their masturbation, and one who meets their gaze at any point is "locking in." Later that afternoon he apologized to me and asked that I not mention what had happened to anyone else. This works for both of us. He doesn't want other people to know hes into dudes, and I don't want to tell the story. Also, the homophobes, which is a category that I sometimes think includes everyone other than me and the gays, would insist I fight him over it. Like other primates, the homo-sedereus needs to prove himself physically to others. It isn't a real issue, he was testing me. Most people will lie if you ask them whether they are gay, so the easiest thing to do is show them your dick and see what happens. It seems odd to me, but this is the way of things. I've had it happen on one other occasion. I was at another prison, and had just come out of my yearlong stint in segregation. .My celly seemed nice, and he was. Also, he whipped it out halfway through the Sherlock Holmes movie on TNT. I expressed my flabbergast, and he apologized. We never spoke of it again, and we were together two months without any issues.
Sometimes, I find out from other people that I'm gay. While I was at work a few weeks back one of my confreres passed me a note. It was a couple of paragraphs asking whether I was into "that life", which is what they call it. I wrote "nope" on the bottom and handed it back. 
He later told me that he had wanted to talk to me about it because someone else had told him that was my persuasion. That someone else continued to insist to him that I was. I knew this other fellow, though not well, so I discussed the matter with him in he chow hall not long after. Apparently, he was at the other institution when I was, and he had learned there that I was engaged in activities of the kind with my aforementioned celly, and also this other guy I used to play scrabble with. It is amazing how many homosexual relationships I can be party to without knowing it. To clarify, I'm not into dudes, and I did clarify that with him. I don't care about what people do to themselves or to each other, but I would rather they left men apart from their bacchanals.
This isn't something I get excited about, but that's true of almost everything. Is ataraxia a medical condition or just a fun word?

William Myrl 

William Myrl; Letters to No One (42)

Dear No One,
I am sitting in the pod, ten o'clock at night, listening to LGFUAD on repeat. Its one of those songs that doesn't dull until it does, and then I can put the volume up one more notch and it feels fresh again. I had cheese and biscuits for breakfast, so I saved the cheese. Lunch was a pepperoni sandwich, not terribly enticing, so I saved the meat. Before they let us out after nine o'clock count I cooked a ramen noodle and a half with a handful of saltine crackers in an old chip bag. If you use just enough water and put pressure on it to sit for a while it becomes something the locals call a brick. I cooked the pepperoni and cheese with some crumbled crackers in the microwave, then I put them in a bowl with the squished out brick. Coincidentally, I had some of the commissary pizza a sauce at hand to complete the dish. It looked sort of like a pizza pie (a literal pizza pie, not a regular pizza) and I know you must tire of me talking about my inmate cookery but it is interesting to me. I was quite pleased with myself. Including a Pepsi the meal would be about a dollar fifty, a third of a days wage. Living large. 
Back to the music. Mania is difficult to describe. Whenever the med kids ask me about it I get vague and flounder. Music makes it easier, because that is what mania feels like, I think. LGFUAD, by Motion City Soundtrack (I've never listened to another song of theirs all the way through) and I Can't Decide, by the Scissor Sisters,(another band I don't actually listen to) are both fantastic. The entire debut album of The Protomen will also do just fine. 
Life is looking well for me. My essay comes out in two months, and I have every expectation of getting into the Washington and Lee class. My brother is keeping the site together, and the eBook version of Mythopoeia and the Riven Shield will be a thing in the near future. Mom is worrying that the Square head and Triangle comics won't send the right message about me to future readers, but I feel it will be alright. In a lot of ways, my time here is not like other peoples. Maybe that makes me a bad reporter, except I am all you've got, so that makes me the best reporter. I'm pretty sure that's how it works.
I have been trying to get moved to the same pod my buddies went to, so far no luck. Our unit manager is more amenable than most to making changes, especially for shop workers. Technically, you can't request specific cells, if they move you it is supposed to be a swap to whatever spot happens to be open somewhere else at the time. It is one of the few instances where the reality diverging from policy comes out in our favor. Our guy is allegedly leaving the prison soon, so I may not have long to secure my spot. I will be comfortable either way, my current lodgings aren't bad. It was nice having friends for a while, there was no reason to expect it to last. At least their wierd blood fued with Mao has cooled.
Sooner or later, everyone starts playing quidditch.
If you got that reference, thank you.
The song has changed. This is Me, by Draft King. That's another flavor of crazy for you, and a much pleasanter one than the previously mentioned.

William Myrl