Memorial Day Weekend at JCI

Posted: June 25, 2010 in Uncategorized

I’m at the Jackson Correctional Institution (JCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  Its the Memorial Day weekend, and I hope you found that an enjoyable time with your loved ones.  Here at JCI, the abnormal May heat wave continues and inmates are doing what they can to stay cool.  For the first time in a couple weeks, we are having baked chicken, the only time we have a meal with meat that we eat off a bone.  As a result, there is a lot of wheeling and dealing going on between inmates, myself included.  I don’t care for the fish sandwich often served on Fridays, so I gave that up for another person’s chicken today.  The food in general here is of better quality than what we had at the Waukesha County Jail but not anything you would like to have on a regular basis.  It’s common knowledge they mix food with soy so it’s nutritional value is suspect.  But this is prison.  I don’t expect great food.  Be assured, when released I want to find an Egg McMuffin, the broasted chicken at Old Country Buffet and prime rib with a baked potato!  I think my taste buds will be on overload and my digestive system in shock.  But I won’t care!

Of course, I must mention the cable television situation here.  No, we don’t have anything other than basic cable.  No TNT, USA, ESPN or the ones I miss most, MSNBC and the History Channel, nothing like that.  It seems since heavier rains earlier this month, many channels are intermittently out of order.  JCI claims this has occurred since the changeover to digital from analog, but I’ve only noticed on as a major issue in the last month.  This has caused an intense amount of grumbling among the inmates, which only is made worse as JCI keeps saying the problem will be fixed only to have more stations go offline after the promised date.  I am fortunate that my mind is not solely occupied by TV.  I have my studies, National Public Radio, the newspaper and the Bible to occupy my time.  Compared to Dodge, these conditions are paradise.  I think part of it is just being human beings, we’re always going to have something to complain about.  It may not be Lake Woebegone (are you familiar with that reference?) here but I’ve managed to carve out an existence where my mind is occupied and some acceptance of the conditions around me exists.  It’s a marginal existence devoid of human affection, relationships or empathy but I’m getting along.  What else can I do?

Since chemotherapy ended, I’ve begun the initial stages of a physical workout routine.  Needless to say, being 41 and not having done anything really physical since November, my muscles are hurting, particularly my legs.  I run around the track once, then walk around once. Then while in my cell, I do 10-15 push-ups every hour.  I used to do more while in the Waukesha County Jail but I have to work back up to it.  Boy, I sure lost a lot since the diagnosis.  But I’m alive, and able to improve which is better than the alternative.

It’s Memorial Day weekend.  We are to honor those who gave their lives for our country.  My biological father didn’t die physically in Vietnam but he did die in just about every other way a man could die.  He was a victim too, a person whom the system and a country didn’t know how to help, or how to prevent the ensuing collateral damage.  But that doesn’t negate his sacrifice, and he should be honored for it.  Sometimes I can bring myself to him too.  I work on it. 


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