Posts Tagged ‘obsession’


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  Do you know the song “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Around the Old Oak Tree” by Tony Orlando?  It’s a nice song that tells a nice story about an inmate who gets release from prison and wonders if his love will take him back.  If she will, she’s supposed to tie a yellow ribbon around the oak tree in front of their house. Well he gets there on a bus and he finds, with everyone cheering around him, there are a hundred yellow ribbons on the oak tree. Like I said, it’s a nice story.  Happy endings in prison are so rare I have found.  But when one comes along you can’t help but cheer along with the inmate.  I’ve told you how ERP group member Scott Bunker endured a potentially serious medical condition over the last few days.  Saturday came and hadn’t improved.  In fact, I’m told it had gotten worse.  It must be true, for the guards took him on a weekend , which is quite rare, back to the hospital again.  He again returned, this time having been fitted with a catheter.  It kind of reminds me too that even us inmates are capable of setting aside the pettiness, racial tension and self obsession that seems to consume us here when a person among us falls sick.  Seeing Bunker sick made us united in the hope for his recovery and conveying that to him.  Still we are men.  There of course were the jokes about him being “on his period.”  Tasteless yes but juvenile humor is often how men will cope and as a group deal with a tough situation.  When I was diagnosed with cancer while at Waukesha county Jail awaiting transfer to WPS, an inmate yelled so everyone could hear, “Hey Martin you gonna die or what?”  We all laughed.  I was grateful for the break in the tension.  Anyway, the goodwill generated by Bunker’s situation seemed to last all day.  Then that night, according to him, without them knowing what had happened, his second wife and step-daughter showed up for a visit after not having communicated at all for the past 2 years.  What occurred was just amazing!  She told him she wanted him to come home to them after all and that they still loved him.  He had sent his victim impact letter to her so perhaps this got the ball rolling.  After he got off his visit he went around the dayroom telling everyone that would listen, trying to act indifferent about it but the smile on his face betrayed him.  I’m just very happy for him.  I’m not the type to always describe to God every good or bad thing that happens.  But how could you not in this case?  On Sunday, it was time for my weekly call to my adoptive parents, Charles and Victoria Martin.  I’ve seen them once since I was in prison and recently started talking to me via phone.  They’re consumed by retirement planning as Charles is retiring as a pastor  shortly after my anticipated release.  They are moving to a place in WI which is where I’m thinking I’ll end up initially after release.  Their first concern was to talk to my parole officer (PO) up there to try to get alcohol allowed at the house.  No go there!  Their second was the retirement party at the hotel on the Saturday prior to the retirement service and whether alcohol could be present.  I told them I’d be talking to the PO about it this week.  Truth is though I’m dreading the whole thing.  After a rough start in life, I’d became an IT Professional, homeowner, and family man.  I had earned respect of others.  Now I’ll see all these people I’ve known over the years alone, penniless and no job.  I have no clue how to deal with that.  I’m sure I’m not the first guy to have to go there after prison.  I wrote a letter to my adoptive parents asking them to allow me to duck out on Saturday after making an appearance but then to participate in all the hoopla, pictures and tributes at his retirement service on Sunday.  But I’ve got to trust God to look after me the same way he looked after Scott Bunker.  It may not be as dramatic but I’ve learned God will always get me through.  The retirement party is in July and its April.  A lot can happen between now and then.


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  The Thanksgiving holiday started off quiet.  Almost all the regular guards have been gone the last 2 days as many of them have gone deer hunting.  The result of that is we had guards unfamiliar with how things really work as opposed to by the book.  This created some tension but most of the time we just laughed.  Early in the morning several inmates began preparing a feast of canteen items, making burritos, cakes, chili and such on the counter we line up by for lunch.  I wasn’t invited as you had to contribute canteen that was needed and since I was packed up to go to Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF) for my ERP program on Monday I didn’t have anything.  There were those that wanted to participate but others already involved didn’t want them to.  Food made by the inmates is usually pretty good though quite spicy, usually too much so for me.  But to be invited to contribute canteen and eat is usually indicative of the positive social status of the inmate.  The downside of this activity is the microwaves on the unit are occupied for the duration.  I and other inmates had to sneak  over to the other side of the unit to warm up our coffee.  It might surprise you to know that we all were watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade.  It was a nice memory for me as I had played tuba in the band and marched competitively back in high school, all 140 pounds of me back then.  Boy I feel old at 42 and 195!  Our “Thanksgiving meal” wasn’t until supper so I put on 2 coats, hat, gloves and tied up my hood and walked on the track.  As you might expect, my thoughts were far from FMCI, and not really even about MSDF.  They were more about my future and the focus on what I need to do when I get out.  I waver between rational and anxiety drive trains of thought.  Technically inmates have to go back to the area were they committed their crime (Waukesha county) but if you have a job and a place to go they’ll let you go there.  As I’ve noted before, I’m in Information Technology and a .NET Framework programmer.  My adoptive parents are in Winnebago County so perhaps Green Bay, WI is where I should go which is near them.  There’s few jobs like that in Waukesha County and besides my ex-wife and all those triggers associated with that are there.  How can I pull this off?  The thought process gets tangled between obsession, fantasy and reality.  The thought occurs there is little I can accomplish on my own without help.  I wrote a letter to one of my sponsors expressing all this, pretty scatter brained sounding I’m sure, asking for help with how to do this.  I’m not sure they’ll know what to do but they’re who I have in my corner right now.  I really need to be focusing on finishing ERP at MSDF in the short term.  Supper consisted of turkey loaf, cranberries, stuffing and mixed vegetables.  Though everyone complained, I didn’t see anyone giving their food away.  That’s alright, when I get out, to celebrate, I’m getting a NuWave oven like I used to have and am going to make a huge turkey, peach cobbler, stuffing and fruit salad.  Everyone is invited but please RSVP! 🙂  But back to this reality.  Unfortunately, they ran out of turkey loaf so they had to do something else for the guys at the end of the line and a servery (kitchen) worker fell and shattered his elbow. We all watched the exciting conclusion to the Dallas Cowboys – New Orleans Saints game.  As for me, my stomach did back flips as one of the guys who was cooking canteen earlier in the day offered me a left over burrito. It was good, but man it was spicy!