Fries, Cats, Blanche, Exquisite Toenails and WM3

Last night I made some progress on the Etsy shop. Today I have a few things on my agenda but I hope to at least make a little prototype of what I’m going to start off selling. I just wanted to post an update about that so you know I wasn’t joshin ya and that I am a woman of my word.

Also, these cats are going to be the death of me. They have a new habit of SWARMING me when I get out of bed. They want to be fed. I usually feed them right away and now they are getting pushy. I want them to knock off the pushiness so I am making them wait a little. They follow me around and wind around me feet with every step making it impossible to walk. *sigh* Adorable assholes they are.

We got “Tales from the Crypt” from Netflix yesterday. It was good to see that dusty old pun-maker again. I want to watch it again NOW!

We just had grilled cheese and garlic fries for brunch. Have you guys ever had those garlic fries from Trader Joe’s? Ooooh do they have a lot of garlic on them but hot damn are they good!


I was writing that early this afternoon.  I’ve since run a bunch of errands and have also eaten again.  Really really fascinating stuff.  BUT here is a very, very vague prototype of what I’m going to be making.  I’ll show you more as I go along but I just wanted to share because I’m excited!  It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but it makes me chuckle.

One of my errands was going to print the Blanche stuff.  While waiting online at Staples, this woman was standing in front of me.  She was a MESS of crazypants but my favorite physical feature of hers were her lengthy, manicured toenails.  My favorite personal feature was that she was calmly standing in Staples and making copies of glamour photos but then she got on her cellie and started talking in a coquettish voice and saying she was stuck in traffic.  She said, “Oooooh there’s so much TRAFFIC!  It’s just terrible!”  And THEN she said she was on Crenshaw which is at LEAST twenty minutes from here.  And THEN she said she was rushing to wherever the person on the phone was, begged them not to leave and said she’d be there soon.  Then she got off the phone and went on with her business as calm and unrushed as ever.  Haha.  A-mazing.  And no I don’t know what is the matter with her heel.  If you know, please tell me.


P.S. And I can’t believe I found time to talk about some woman’s exquisite toenails and not about this!  The WM3 are going to get another hearing to see if they should get new trials based on the DNA evidence that exonerates them!  Big news!!!

Some actual (incoherent) words (and yes, pictures)

A book my boss gave me as a prezzie, haha. (I think he just had it laying around. No, I KNOW he did.)

I haven’t straight WRITTEN in a long time. Every time I go to post a bloggy lately, it’s picture-laden and for that I’m sorry. (ADDENDUM: I’m adding pictures because this many words alone looks boring, hehe.) As you can see, I’ve been taking a monstrous amount of pictures and feel like it’s a waste not to post them. Like I write this blog for myself. I write it for a couple of reasons:

a) I started writing a blog back in the dizzle because I needed a break at work. That’s the honest truth. I started blogging on MySpace in 2004 I guess. Times where I had something to get off my chest or I needed a second to collect myself or if I just wanted to take a break without disturbing someone else, I would blog for a couple of minutes, feel a little lighter and then go on with my day. Now it’s less a “get out of jail free” sort of thing as it is a habit.

Kristyn at the Echo Park Deep Pool.

b) I like doing it. Honestly, I kind of think that blogging keeps me happy. When I first started blogging, I really just blogged about anything. My personal life, my thoughts, my friends, my family, my job, mishaps and various splendored miscellanea. As I’ve gone on blogging, I’ve noticed that I’ve gotten away from posting personal thoughts. I think we all, as a culture realized that we’d better tame the information we put online about ourselves. MySpace was brand-spanking-new when I was doing that and who the hell knew that employers and schools would be looking at that info? Who really thought that it would spread so far as to become a cultural necessity? Honestly, I’m not much of a fan of Facebook’s platform but I like that it’s opened social networking up to people of all ages. MySpace was kind of like a seedy bar that you wouldn’t bring a family member to but you might go to yourself to people-watch. Facebook is like being at a brightly-lit family restaurant that people keep wandering in and out of. You expect people to be loud and chatty but everyone please keep your clothes on, Grandmas and children are present. Honestly, I really appreciate that shit. It allows us ALL to get involved and be socially connected. AND it kind of makes us all keep ourselves in check with what we put online because you don’t want your co-workers and various family members seeing a picture of you posing with a giant inflatable beaver or whathaveyou.

Edith looking out the window and enjoying life for once.

c) On that note, I find that having to keep positive has actually made my life more positive. I’m sort of a natural braggart because I’m a talker. It’s not that I am trying to BRAG but it’s that I tend to tell a lotta stories, some of which happen to be kinda awesome, and others that are kinda boring. Hey, don’t hate the player, hate the game. BUT, I realized that if I blog the awesome things that happen to me, I’m kind of writing the story of my own life and crystallizing the memories I WANT to remember and tucking the ones I don’t in the background. I have a photographic memory for like, everything bad that has ever happened to me. I spent probably ALL of my twenties ruminating on every single negative thing that I’ve ever done, that anyone’s ever done TO me, that has almost happened, that did happen…it was nuts and it was terrible. I was so goddamn miserable and basically stuck in a non-stop obsessive pattern of blech. And it made me negative as hell. When I started blogging though, I was able to kind of freeze-frame funny things that happened to me that ordinarily I’d only tell a friend in passing or just kind of keep to myself to chuckle over. I started getting positive feedback from my friends who found my anecdotes mildly amusing and a lot of times we’d end up talking and connecting via satellite about whatever all because I posted a quick story about busting my ass in Kmart.

This is some embroidery I started last weekend. I haven't done this in a dog's age.

d) And then I moved to WordPress. People were starting to defect from MySpace and I’m an early-adopter anyway so off I went as well. I’d kind of been toying with taking my bullshit to the World Wide Web at large anyway and so it was kind of a natural progression. I ended up posting over here and started off with like 2 hits a day, if that. Now, on a good day, I’ll get about 100 or so hits, on a day I haven’t posted, about 20 something. That doesn’t sound like a lot but to me it is. And what’s funny is that as soon as Johnny Depp said that he stands with the West Memphis Three, I have been getting hits like ba-fn-naners. In one day, I got almost 500 hits. Since last week, I’ve gotten about 1500-2000 hits from a WM3 post I wrote a year ago ALONE. So crazy and so awesome, for me and for the WM3 bc that means people want information and are paying attention…

Elvira is basking in the sun. I took this (and a lot of these pictures) with my iPhone using an app called Hipstamatic. Awesome.

e) But anyway, I moved to WordPress to continue babbling on, mostly for Kristyn and anyone who’s bored at work’s benefit. And then we seriously decided to move to California. With that, things kind of changed because I wanted my family and friends to know what was going on with us. The last few months we were home, we were unavoidably detained and almost sequestered, so intense was the focus we had to shine on the enormity of moving cross-country. There were people who didn’t understand. There were people who did. There were some complaints that we weren’t spending more time with everyone before we left and those who felt completely neglected. SO I started using this blog as a way to keep everyone up-to-date with what it was that was happening because I really didn’t have time to take each person aside and explain, haha. I had intended on basically live-blogging our drive from Northern NJ to SoCal but it didn’t work out that way. We lost iPhone service constantly. It was hella spotty at best. BUT, I took a shitload of pictures and WILL finish up my travel stories, I promise you that.

Here is Elvira giving it her all. She's trying to rip an Alf clip-on off a nail on the wall. I thought Alf was supposed to attack cats, not the other way around.

f) But in the meantime, we’re here now and living our lives in LA and things are happening in the interim. Before we moved here, we’d only come here once, spending all of four entire days wandering around. We saw a LOT on that trip BUT not enough to feel all “old hat” about this place. Almost every day we see something that makes us go, “Whooooa.” We’re both from the same town. We were both born and raised there. It’s two miles long. Sure there are like 40,000 people stuffed into those two miles but it’s two…miles. One gets tired of looking at the same two mile span of land no matter how many side-streets and alternate routes one dreams up. And LA is… 498.3 square miles of space. 498.3. When I say it’s huge here, it’s HUUUUGE here. And there’s so much to see and so much to do…and none of our family and friends live here. While some of them have been here, not even a fraction of them have so I changed this blog into sort of an “OMG LA!” blog. Oh and it’ll stay that way because I am wide-eyed as hell still and I don’t see that changing anytime soon since we’re poor shut-ins at the moment.

Here is Monster looking like a stuffed animal. Seriously, how is he this cute?

So yeah, that’s a lot of “wokka wokka” talk right there, sorry for the runaway train mouth. Oh well.

What else? Oh, I finally got a handle on my Nike + thing today at lunch. I walked for 31.1 minutes for 1.11 miles and burned 183 calories. I love this thing. Anything that combines my iPhone with anything else is a friend of mine. iPhone + sneakers = fitness? Okay.

Also, we have a lot of friends and family coming to visit this month so that’ll be fun and I’m sure you’ll hear/see all about it, haha.

Post-Valentine's Day cake I baked us this week since we were in NJ on V-Day.

Also, I need to get a job like WHOA. We need to save up for a security deposit for our next apartment. We don’t move until the beginning of September but this landylord of us has some tricks up her sleeve and I’d rather have that money sooner rather than later. I don’t wanna be caught unawares. Also, I wanna be able to BOUNCE right on time with nothing getting in our way. Do you guys have any suggestions as to what neighborhood to move to in LA? I mean we do but I’d like to hear some suggestions (and why) because maybe it’ll give us some idears. We like Silver Lake (Kristyn more so than I do) but things are getting straight up hairy over there lately for some reason. It used to be a sketch area but rose up like a phoenix only to suddenly have a rash of violent crimes break out within the past couple of months. The neighborhood leaders are taking it seriously, meeting up and taking it to the city leaders who are also taking it seriously. So that’s good news. But still…I, personally, want to live closer to the beach. We’re as far away from the beach as we can be and still be in LA City limits. That’s a bummer for me. So IDK, maybe we can find a charming area that’s more central LA. We shall see.

Okay, I’m going to sign off now before I get cataracts from looking at this screen and rheumatoid arthritis from typing on this keyboard. Also, I like you and want you to come back some day. “It’s always been you, Rach.”

Good news for Damien Echols!

On July 1st, progress was made in Arkansas toward getting Damien Echols a new trial. Damien, Jason and Jessie were tried in county court and have had to go through their appeals in county court. Judge Burnett, the same judge who presided over their original trial has insisted on being the presiding judge over every appeal that has ever taken place in regards to the WM3, even cimung out of retirement to do so. As I understand it, you have to go through a certain procession of appeals before you can get out of the local court system and appeal to the state’s Supreme Court. At this moment, Damien is now making an appeal to the Arkansas Supreme Court who is in the process of info-gathering to make a decision as to whether or not Damien needs to be re-tried.

Since the 1994 conviction, a lot of evidence has come out to support their claim that they are innocent and also it has been found out that the Jury Foreman in Damien and Jason’s case had not only decided on their guilt prior to the trial ever starting (based on what he had read in newspapers and seen on TV), he also talked about the case outside the courtroom while the trial was still ongoing AND openly admitted to coercing more doubtful jurors to find them guilty. Because of this, they were unable to have a fair trial.

Judge Barnett was trying to keep this information out of the State Supreme Court’s hands. For some reason this judge just does not feel secure enough in their guilt that he is resorting to tactics to keep them in prison. If he was assured of their guilt, why not then just let another judge preside? Or why not provide everyone with the same info and le them draw the same conclusion he did, that they’re guilty. A lot of money and reputations have been built on this case, that’s why.

Anyway. The Arkansas Supreme Court last week demanded that Judge Burnett turn over the Juror Misconduct info as well as DNA tests and dental impressions that point away from the WM3 to use in their consideration for whether or not Damien gets re-tried! He has 30 days to fork it over and it will take them 30-60 days to go through the information and decide.

There’s hope yet! Guys we have a ducked up system when a person’s got to go through almost 20 years of appeals processes before you can get the Supreme Court’s attention. And it’s not like Damien’s been biding his time watching the Simpsons. He’s spent 20 years in Prison. In Solitary Confinement. On Death Row. Makes me grateful for all I have.

Anyway here’s a link to the article:

Balanced perspective?

Last night I got “Devil’s Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three” in the mail.  I started reading it today.  This is considered to be, apart from, the heavy reading about this case.  The author, Mara Leveritt, decided to look at the facts of the case objectively, read all of the court documents, transcripts, police reports, etc and compile it into a book, using tons of notation to underline her research.  I am just starting to read it today.  We’ll see how it goes.  I’m almost done reading Damien Echols’ book “Almost Home: Volume 1” which is a memoir of his life leading up to his arrest and during the trial etc.  It’s self-published and was written on legal paper so there are errors and it’s kind of like reading a super-long blog entry.  It’s interesting to hear the events described from his end of it.

Anyway, I’m going to read “Devil’s Knot” which is basically in the end, Pro-WM3.  After that I’m going to read “Blood of Innocents: The True Story of Multiple Murder in West Memphis, Arkansas”.  “Blood of Innocents” is considered to be slanted in the opposite direction, against the WM3.  I mean, I’ve been doing a lot of research on the subject and I am obviously of the mind to that the WM3 are innocent and that the real killer is still out there.  But I’d like to see if “Blood of Innocents” has evidence in it that makes my opinion waver.  If I’m wrong about the WM3, I don’t want to blindly support them.  But everything I have seen so far, every article, every website, every court document, all of the evidence, it all points away from these three guys.  So I’ll give it a read.  If it makes me waver, I’ll just have to do more research to find out the validity of those claims.  If it doesn’t make me waver, then I know that what I believe to be true, IS true.

I truly don’t believe that these guys did this.  I really truly believe that they are in prison because they were obvious suspects, poor and could not defend themselves against these allegations.  The public officials in Arkansas all say that if the public had the information laid out in front of them like they did and like the jurors involved did, they’d know that the right people were behind bars.  But that’s not true.  The information is available online and you can read it yourself on  The families of the victims no longer believe they have the right people in jail.

I just don’t think it’s right that people should be arrested, tried and end up in prison for life for a crime that cannot physically tie the ones sentenced to the crime.  I feel like, at the very least, give them a new trial.  Let the bite marks, alibis, and DNA come into evidence and try these guys with science.  Hold the evidence up to the meter we now use.  These guys were tried and convicted solely on hearsay (which has now been admitted to be lies by the people involved), on rumors (that the police themselves started), on fear and on a desperate need to calm the community who was growing steadily more and more panicked.

It just makes me feel terrible that the possibility of these people being innocent yet serving life sentences could end up robbing them of their lives.  And I just can’t understand why Arkansas won’t just re-try them.  Why not?  If they’re certain that the right people are in prison, they’ll be re-convicted and their decision will be upheld.  Damien Echols himself has said that he’d never want the ruling to be overturned.  He’d never want to be released without being re-tried because he would want his name to be free and clear before he went back into the world.  That, to me, doesn’t sound like a person who is hoping to commit a crime and get away with it.  It sounds to me like a person who didn’t do what he is accused of doing and is pissed off about being painted with that brush.  So I’m going to read these books with (somewhat) objective eye and then report my findings.

One final point I want to make in all of this is that someone I know and love ALSO did a substantial amount of time in prison for a crime they did not commit.  So I know it’s possible, I know it happens and I am part of a group of people who had to stand on the sidelines waiting for someone to come home who was robbed of many years of their life with their family and friends.  I know the toll it takes on the person and the people that love them.  Conviction doesn’t necessarily equal guilt.

So if there is a chance that someone else did this crime, I think that that should be examined.  That’s all.  And if we pay attention and put enough pressure on the right people, they can be re-tried by today’s standards and justice will be finally served.

WM3 say thanks

Guys if you haven’t watched the other videos I’ve posted, please watch these.  These videos are three years old.  Please spread the word and let’s try to get these guys a new trial at the very least.

They have family and friends at home who’d like to see them come home.  I know that if they were my family and friends I’d want everyone and anyone to listen and spread the word and I know you would too.  So please help them out by spreading the word any way you can.

I’m very boring y’all

Guys, I have something to confess.  I am very boring.  Well I am very boring lately.  Ordinarily I wouldn’t put a “very” in there but lately I am “very boring”.  Me and Kristyn have some pretty huge things on the horizon so we’ve been intentionally “boringizing” ourselves.  We’ve been doing homework.  We’ve been cleaning the house.  We’ve been conducting yard sales.  We’ve been watching Lost.  We’ve been laying down a lot.  Haven’t been moving around much.  Mostly it’s fun and exactly what we want to be doing but we’re somewhat stupid so sometimes we forget WHY we’re “boringizing” and go all basketcase wondering where our lives are going, haha.  Then we remember that we are WORKING toward something and “boringizing” is a part of it.

Some of you know what we’re up to and those who don’t, well you’ll find out soon enough, it’s not a secret, it’s just better kept under wraps until we have more details worked out.  I’m sorry to anyone that we’ve upset with our boringness, our inability to leave the house, attend things we’d usually, etc.  It’s just that this thing is bigger than anything either of us have ever really done and we don’t know how best to go about it.  Ugh, even I’m sick of the code talk.  I’ll tell you soon.

The point is that I don’t have anything to blog about.  I could blog about Lost but anything I tell you will f it up for you if you haven’t seen it already.  I could blog about Elementary Statistics but I think you’d murder me.  I could blog about Medical Journal Production but I think I’D murder me.

So I’m blogging about WM3.  It’s something that people need to know about, it’s something that’s engaged me and it’s something that people need to spread the word about.

I’m not used to not blogging about me.  I’ve always just blogged about what’s going on in my life and in the past, me and Kristyn didn’t have much going on so we made our own fun, which resulted in somewhat interesting blogging.  This boringness is weird bc it’s making me antsy to make a definitive move to get things into motion bc I’m afraid I won’t go through with what we’ve planned if I don’t have a ball rolling and I’m kind of at a creative loss without having something to blog about.  Damn yo.

Ugh see what a pointless blog this is, haha.  Anyway, whatever.  Okay, I’ll just post some WM3 stuff and you better watch it!  Haha.  Oh weirdly too, my blog is the “Featured Blog” on wordpress for tags containing “Damien Echols”.  It’s not an honor or anything, it’s just probably that my blog has the most recent Damien Echols tag hits recently.  Anyway, I just thought that was kind of interesting and made me happy.

WM3: Time for Truth, Parts 1 & 2

Guys, watch the above videos to find out why it is that these three people should not be sitting in jail.  Remember, despite the above evidence, Damien Echols is sitting on Death Row and Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley are going to spend the rest of their lives in prison.

It’s just not right.

Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills

I wanted to show you guys the trailer for Paradise Lost 1 because I want you guys to see that this IS an interesting movie if nothing else.  The first movie (above) just basically shows a more or less balanced version of the events as they took place not giving much credence either way to whether the WM3 did it or did not.  Mostly you are able to draw your own conclusions.  Damien is kind of painted as a somewhat histrionic nutcase as are the parents of the dead kids.  Watch it, it’s good yo.

What it’s like to live on Death Row, Part 2

This letter was written to an art collective who hosts art shows for Damien featuring his work to raise money for his Legal Defense Fund.  It’s similar to the Margaret Cho letter but is more bleak in tone and is more recent.  The Margaret Cho one was written in April of 2004 and this one was written in November of 2006.  It is from this website

Here it is:

A typical day in prison begins with me getting out of bed at 7 A.M. and 8 A.M. Sleep deprivation is a tool the A.D.C. puts to good use, so you can’t get more than 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep at a time. For example, they don’t turn the lights off until 10:30 P.M., and then they turn them right back on at 2:30 A.M. This is because a great many of the prisoners in general population are forced to work in the fields all day, and they want to get them out there as early as possible. Death row eats breakfast at the same time, even though we don’t work the fields. They bring a plastic tray to your cell, open a slot in the steel door, and slide the tray in to you. They’ll return about an hour later, open the slot, and you slide the tray out to them. You can then go back to sleep, but you’ll be awakened several more times for various reasons.

After getting up for good at 7 or 8, I make myself a cup of tea and call my wife. We’re allowed to talk once a day, for 15 minutes. The calls cost an arm and a leg – a 15-minute phone call costs 15 dollars. The system designed so that they can make money off of you even as they try to kill you. Prisoners even have to pay tax. Every tube of toothpaste, every bar of soap, every candy bar – you pay sales tax on all of it.

After the phone call, we get an hour on what they call “the yard”. They yard is a concrete vault, a sort of cross between a grain silo and a dog kennel. During the summer it’s full of pigeons and mosquitoes. The exercise period consists of walking in circles for an hour, and then the guards take you back in to your cell. Lunch is served at 9:30 A.M. and is a repeat of the breakfast ritual.

Next I begin working my way through the letter pile. I’ll write two or three letters, then take a break to read for awhile, or to work out. Push-ups, sit-ups, jumping a homemade jump rope, yoga, or the little bit of Tai Chi you can do in such a confined space.

Dinner is at 3 P.M. Dinner is the worst meal of the day, because everyone is in such a hurry to get out of the kitchen. The other two meals are nothing you’d ever order in a restaurant, but the last meal has been known to cause near riots.

I then proceed to write a few more letters while Oprah plays in the background. There is a television in my cell, which picks up the basic stations – ABC, NBC, CBS, and on a really clear night PBS. The shower is also in my cell, a metal faucet on the wall and a drain in the floor. You can’t control the water temperature; you just push a button and get blasted for 60 seconds with whatever comes out. It can range from frostbite to scalding.

On Thursdays a priest comes from the nearby parish to hold mass for the catholic inmates. This consists of myself and two other inmates being chained hand and foot, placed in a room slightly smaller than my cell, and given an hour to have mass, say the rosary, etc. As sparse and dull as it may sound on paper, it’s actually a pretty fun event, and I look forward to it every week.

The only other time I’m out of my cell is on Friday, when my wife and I are allowed to see each other for three hours. This takes place in a cell in the visitation area.

I’m often working on projects – submitting my poetry to various literary journals and magazines, or doing paintings, drawings and collages like you’ll be able to see at the upcoming art show. Sometimes something will fill me with inspiration and I’ll be burning up inside until I can find a way to work it out. The last thing was the art and life of Remedios Varo. The inspiration that came from that is what made me start on my first collage. The poet Ogden Nash is famous for quotes “Where there’s a monster, there’s a miracle.” That was stuck in my head, too. So if you combine Remedios Varo and Ogden Nash you get monster themed collages. At least that’s what I got. So far the only person to see them is my wife. Not even my partner-in-art Anne has seen them yet, but I’m eager for people to get their first glimpse of them.

I obsessively write in my journal, and have filled quite a few volumes over the years. That’s something else I’d love to publish one day – “The Death Row Diary.” Just compile them into one volume. Journaling is like therapy for me, even while keeping a record.

I don’t watch a great deal of television, but I leave it on all the time for back ground noise. I like “My Name is Earl” and “Boston Legal.” For a long, long time I couldn’t watch anything that involved cops, lawyers, court rooms, etc. It was too much. I like “Boston Legal”, though. It’s smart. For the most part, television is trash. Brain rot.

When people ask me about an average day in prison, I never know what they want to hear about. My boring daily routine? The brutality, fighting, stabbings, and abuse? The executions? Or are they interested in the bright spots, the currents of magick that lift you up and makes you want to go on living, even in the center of a nightmare? I write about whatever comes to mind and hope it satisfies.

Be well. Talk to you soon.


What it’s like to live on Death Row, part 1.

Here is a letter from Damien Echols about what a typical day for him on Death Row is like.  He sent this to Margaret Cho who has fought for his cause and who is now his friend.  She helped him to publish his memoir and wrote the introduction.  This is from her blog at

Here it is:

Our Man Inside

Thursday, May 20th, 2004

get a pretty good account of prisoner abuse that doesn’t get photographed, that happens daily, most likely in correctional facilities all over – America.

I asked chief correspondent, our man inside, Damien Echols, what it is like where he lives. He has a good sense of humor about his situation, but it makes it nonetheless a travesty of justice and humanity. He is innocent. And he lives like this..

Dear Margaret,

I was very happy to receive your letter, and there is much I want to respond to, but first I’ll jump right to the question because it may take a while to answer. You want to know about a typical day for me, what occupies my time and mind, and what the culture and society are like in here. There are many angles from which I could try to answer that, and I’m going to try to be as complete as possible.

The day begins with breakfast at 3 A.M. they have it so early because they want to get inmates out into the fields as soon as possible. They call it the “hoe squad,” and that’s where Jesse Miskelley is now. It’s considered punishment. There is no job in the world that’s more grueling, back breaking, or demeaning. You have to guard against heat stroke, poisonous snakes and other inmates who may decide to stick a hoe in your head because they’re having a bad day. I feel sorry for Jesse.

Breakfast is the same meal every single morning except Saturday. On Saturday you get pancakes. Every other day you get a scoop of powdered eggs, two biscuits, grits, and watered down gravy. I’m considered somewhat of a freak, because I love powdered eggs. I much prefer them over the real thing. I had never discovered this tasty treat before coming here.

At breakfast they turn the lights on and won’t turn them back off until 5:00 or 5:15, after all the trays have been picked up and put away. I try to get a little more sleep during that time, but it’s never restful because of all the lights and noise. The lights come back on at 7 o’clock, and stay on for the rest of the day. Shortly after this I begin trying to get the phone to make the morning call to Lorri. It’s not always as easy as it sounds.

After I get the phone (if the battery isn’t dead) I call Lorri for 15 minutes. This is the part of my day which soothes and calms me. Her very nature is happiness, and I can’t get enough. I’m always starving for more, and when she answers the phone my first cry is often, “Where ere you?! I nearly died!” to which she responds, “I was right here, and I nearly died!” If someone were listening in on our phone calls they would hear nothing but love and silliness.

Those 15 minute calls to Lorri are the only real conversations I will have in a day. We may talk of Yo Yo Ma (my favorite musician of all time), Deepak Chopra, G.I. Gurdjieff, Balthus, Goya (my favorite artist), Thomas Hardy, dysfunctional families, or we may plan out what we will watch on television together that night. I say this is the only real conversation I will have because there aren’t many people you can actually talk to in prison. Your average prisoner has an I.Q. of 80. That’s only 10 points above retardation. Most can’t even speak English properly, use words they don’t know the meaning of in ways that make no sense, or make up their own words. There are no insane criminal genius types in here. No Hannibal Lecters. That’s only on television. The vast majority of the people on death row are either mentally retarded or mentally ill. You’re not going to find many people who can even follow the same train of thought for very long.

After Lorri and I reluctantly get off the phone I do my morning stretches. Most people seem to have the impression that I’m still a teenager, the kid they saw in “Paradise Lost.” I am definitely not. I’m a nearly 30 year old man whose health has seen better days. When I first et up in the morning my back and neck are a flaming agony. I can’t even bend over the sink to brush my teeth until I’ve done 5 or 10 minutes of stretching. The stress, this place, the worry, and the people I have to deal with have all taken a toll on me. For example, when you’re locked in a cell 24 hours a day, your eyes never focus on anything far away and it plays hell on your sight. I can now only see clearly for about 3 feet in front of me. My hearing isn’t as keen as it once was, either.

At this point I’ll usually sit down to write a letter or two, but lately that has been the exception to the rule because I’ve been writing non-stop on my memoir. It’s nearly complete, so I’ll soon go back to writing letters. I am so behind that I now have about 150 to 200 letters to write.

I take a break at 9:30, which is when they feed lunch. Prison food is as bad as it gets. The meat is often spoiled or so undercooked that it’s inedible, and the vegetables are never washed. They grow them here, and pick them themselves. I’ve actually found grasshoppers and crickets that had been cooked in the greens because no one cleaned them first. People have made it possible for me to be able to avoid most of it, by donating money to the commissary fund.

After lunch I do a few hundred crunches or sit- ups. It’s hard to stay in shape here, so I work out twice a day. Some people go “out,” but I see no point in it. They come by and ask if you want to go “outside.” If you say “yes,” they put your number on a list. When they come to get you they open a slot in the solid steel door (the same one they push your food through) and you stand with your back to it while they reach through and put chains on you. Once that’s done they open the door and take you to another concrete structure that looks like a cross between a horse stall and a grain silo. The inside is coated with bird feces because of the hordes of pigeons who got in and now call it home. The bugs are pretty bad, too. It’s filthy, and the space is even smaller than your cell. You can’t see anyone else, or carry on a conversation. The entire place echoes constantly with the screams of prisoners. I see no point in going out there, so I spend all my time in my cell. It was different before they moved us to this new prison. At the old place we actually went outside, and you could walk around talking to other people, or at least smelling the air. I haven’t felt the sun touch my skin in nearly a year now. You’re expected to live in complete and total isolation. Here, you’re mostly just ignored, sealed away, and forgotten.

After morning exercise I’ll try to do a little meditation. I don’t nearly as much done as I used to. At one point I was getting in up to 5 hours of meditation a day, but no more. Now, since I’ve started writing, I try to get in at least 30 minutes a day. On a good day I’ll get about 10 letters written, if I work non-stop. That doesn’t even put a dent in the load, but it allows me to thank at least a few people for their thoughts and support.

To relax I’ll put my headphones on and listen to music as I read for a while. I can’t take all the teenage angst crap that comes out these days under the title of “rock,” so I mostly listen to the classical station. I love Thomas Quasthoff. He’s a dwarf with the voice of a god. The first time I saw him was on P.B.S., singing 3 rare concert arias by Mozart. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and hearing. Any time I hear him come on the radio now I stop whatever I’m doing and give it my total attention. I also love to hear Hillary Hahn play anything, but especially Bach. I believe she’s the best violinist out there today, better than Joshua Bell by a mile.

As for what I read – everything. But my subject by far is history. I’m a history junkie. I used to think that I would want to major in psychology, but that was before I discovered history. Especially Military history – The Romans, WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, the Civil War, etc. I love it all.

The second greatest time of the day for me comes at 6 o’clock – mail. That and talking to Lorri are the high points of my day, the things I look forward to. After reading it, I’ll do my second exercise period of the day. Sometimes I’ll do two or three hundred push-ups, other times I’ll run in place for 45 minutes to an hour. This may sound like a lot, but it’s really not when you consider it’s the only exercise I get. There’s no walking around all day for me. Exercise is followed by my nightly shower.

The shower here consists of a spout on the wall and a drain in the floor of my cell. Everything is soaked when you’re finished, so you have to get down on your hands and knees and mop up all the water with your towel. That’s the closest thing to cleaning supplies you will ever get.

After a shower I settle in for the evening. I may watch television if there’s anything on (We only have three channels.) or listen to the radio while reading or writing. Other than classical and opera, the only other music I really love are hair bands. There’s a radio station that comes on for two hours every Saturday night that I will never miss. They play Guns-N-Roses, Saigon Kick, Faster Pussycat, Kixx, L.A. Guns, Skid Row, etc. I’ll take that over Blink 90210 (or whoever the hell they are) any day. I just don’t understand why no one likes Iron Maiden anymore. Or Slayer. Or Pantera.

(editor’s note:I still have much affection for all of these bands. They are the heaviest metal from the truly great age of rock. My dream has always been to one day play Castle Donnington.)

I despise “American Idol.”

( editor’s note: I believe we can all agree on this.)

They turn off the lights at 10:30. If you could train yourself to fall asleep the second the lights went off, you’re still only going to get 4 and a half hours at the most. You can’t sleep straight through though, because you’re constantly awakened by slamming doors, schizophrenic inmates screaming, and rats trying to crawl into our bed as you sleep. The rats are fearless. The night before last I was awakened three times by rats crawling across my feet as they tried to reach a pack of crackers I was saving. The little bastards even chewed a hole in one of my good socks. I save my best ones to wear when Lorri comes every Friday, and now there’s a hole nibbled in one.

The only exception to my routine is Friday, when I get to spend 3 hours with my wife. From P.M. to 4 P.M. we’re locked in a cage together and left to amuse ourselves. Lorri can buy sodas, chips, and candy from a vending machine, and we have a picnic. Sort of. I nearly go into seizures of rapture when I take the first drink of Dr. Pepper, because I always forget how good they are. I can’t have them at any other time. We could buy them at the other prison, but here you drink nothing but water, water, and more water, unless you’re on a visit. It’s agony to have to say goodbye to each other every week after only three hours. It’s never enough.

That’s a typical day in my life, more or less. I’m certain I’ve left out 100 little details that I’ll remember later.

(editor’s note: Regrettably, I had to delete many portions of this letter, because I did not wish to endanger Damien, because he is not yet free, and the truth about where he is, what he deals with, the injustice and the inhumanity are incomprehensible. These revelations made public could far too easily place him in harm’s way. Those 100 little details, and more will be revealed, once justice is finally served.)

I’d better close for now and get busy. Busy taking a nap I desperately need. I’m sending love to you both, and we’ll talk soon.