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Destiny and Fate
January 30 2021
People do not cross paths randomly or by accident. Destiny and Fate bring people together.
When Destiny or Fate so blesses us, we must repay them in kind, by not scoffing at the opportunity offered, but by exploring what is in store, hoping for and enjoying true friendship, real connection, easy conversation, and learning from one another.
Aristotle simply said, “In poverty and other misfortunes of life, true friends are a sure refuge.”
On October 20 I lost my oldest friend of 35 years. He gave his life fighting in Afghanistan. As I reflect on his life, our friendship, and the memories we shared, I realize that what I learned from him was that loyalty and honor are two of the most important virtues a man can hold. That family and friends always deserve the best we can give. I’ve also learned that one of the hardest hings about life and getting older is that the more we live, the older we get, the more we leave behind.
And moving forward in life, I realize that Fate and Destiny blesses me with more wonderful friends, they will always get the best of me, and hopefully I can be a true friend as well as sure refuge for someone out there.
Proceed With Caution
January 30 2021
This blog, a summary of the worst novels I read in 2019, was meant to be posted at the year’s end. But life wrecks our plans with perverse glee. Belatedly, here us my denunciation. Consider yourself warned.
“The Mouth of the Dark” by Tim Waggoner repulsed me with its artless prose and incestuous overtones. Never have I thought myself a feminist, yet even I found something poisonously patriarchal about this tale of an embittered father who goes looking for his missing adult daughter and bumbles into a nephandous netherworld of baleful beings. This is a wretched knockoff of Clive Barker’s Midian stories with extra helpings of tentacle porn. Avoid it if you believe female characters are meant for more than a protagonist’s sexual gratification.
Trouble sleeping? Try a dose of Gareth Powell’s “Ragged Alice”! Its plodding, predictable plot induced slumber for me with remarkable speed. This is a police-procedural novel whose final, supernatural twist I spied from a mile off (or should I say a kilometer?). Its stereotypical characters have all the depth and vitality of cardboard cutouts. Falsely billed as a Welsh “Twin Peaks” on the cover, it possesses none of that peculiar Lynchian magic.
Another example of false billing is found on “Hell’s Ditch” by Simon Bestwick. The “horror” tag on the back cover doesn’t fit this post-apocalyptic action flick. The cast is a parade of cliches and the plot is a formulaic imitation of that astromartial story we all know so well: Grubby rebels fight to overthrow evil overlords and dismantle their horrific weapon. We trust they’ll succeed thanks to their zeal, righteousness, and the author’s inability to let the good guys lose. Now where have I seen that before? Oh, right, a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…
It’s a shame Bestwick’s novel is so bad; British dark fiction usually impresses me. So you can be sure I grew worried about what’s going on across the pond when I read Angela Marsons’ “Silent Scream”, the first of her thrillers about DI Kim Stone. Don’t be fooled by “thrillers”. This drivel is no more exciting than watching socks tumble in the dryer. If the Hallmark Channel’s hacks took a stab at serial-killer fiction and tacked on an incredible farce of an ending that insults those who suffer Dissociative Identity disorder, they could hardly do worse than “Silent Scream”. At least the socks will warm your feet in the end.
January 30 2021
Have you ever finished and set aside a great book knowing it wouldn’t be long before you picked it up again?
I’ve just reread a book ranked among my favorite releases of 2019: “Skidding Into Oblivion”. The unifying theme of Bridge Hodge’s latest collection is “the end of the world”. All these bleak tales are about the dissolution of communities and relationships; in them, a “world” can be anything form summertime friendship and domestic bliss to small towns with ghastly secrets and even the inventive, disturbing, and unblemished by the happy endings that annoy nihilists like me, Hodge’s stories are bitter treats. Nine of the eleven found here impress me. (That’s an 82% satisfaction rating for you math nerds.) Three astound me: “We, the Fortunate Bereaved”, “Cures for a Sickened World”, and “The Same Deep Waters as You”. Recommend for those who like their horror sober, thoughtful, and ruthless.
Incidentally, just before “Skidding” I reread another grim gem: Peter Straub’s “A Special Place”. Described by the French-flap copy as “a rumination on the nature of evil”, this novella chronicles the morbid tutorial of a troubled boy by his cruel, cunning uncle. What makes it so powerful is the violence never occurs “onscreen”. Straub must agree with Lovecraft’s dictum that nothing scares quite like the unknown because he refuses to show readers the darkest moments of the teen’s life. This allows his words to afflict readers with dread; he creates the gaps our minds fill with terrible speculations, helping us scare ourselves. I urge you to take the thrilling plunge into the heart of this dark matter. You don’t need to hold your breath for long. “A Special Place” can be enjoyed in one sitting.
Ryan Sumstad #01918058
January 26 2021
Courage to Live Life
I just heard on the news that University in New Jersey had to shut down because they found Covid-19 in the sewer system. My thought was, “Whose job is it to check the sewer for Covid-19?” That’s a dirty job! Does he do that job year round or is this a special position they created to take advantage of the high unemployment rate right now? I sure hope it’s not some student trying to pay their way through college.
Most of the jobs in prison are like that sewer virus tester job in New Jersey – no one would want to do that work. I once had the night shift shower cleaner job. Like anything that must get done that is disgusting or even terrifying, I’ve found that it’s best to just jump in and get it down and not think too much about it. In my Army training, I’ve jumped off a 10 meter (30+ feet) high dive with gear on, slid down a zip line over a lake and had to let go halfway across, rappelled out of helicopters and jumped out of perfectly good airplanes. I should have died many times, but for some reason I didn’t. The shower cleaner job didn’t last long, but I’m not afraid to clean anything anymore.
When I get out of prison, I hope the economy is better and I can find a good job, or any job. I’ve heard from some of the guys who have gotten out and they are struggling to find work. That’s a recipe for disaster: let a bank robber out of prison and prevent him from being gainfully employed. What is he going to fall back on to pay the bills?
What do you think of your job? How is Covid-19 treating you?
Ryan Sumstad #01918058
January 26 2021
Change is Normal
There is so much to laugh at in prison. This place is like a circus. We have strong men, high-flyers, barkers, bearded ladies, half-animals and jokers. The guards are too funny too.
Just the other day, a guard was leading in a group of guys from work. They all got to the door they were supposed to come in. The guard knocked on the door to have the other guard inside to let them all in. he knocked again and really banged on the door, but still no answer. Then my buddy says, “Hey, why don’t you use your radio?” The guard looks at him, then says, “Thanks”. He pulls out his radio and uses it to bang on the door.
Ha ha, why not use the radio to call the guard who is obviously not on the other side of the door. Duh?! Too funny.
We have a running joke these days. We say, “Same thing every day!” It’s the catch phrase the guards and staff use to berate us for not doing the thing the way they expect us to. For instance, where I work, there are 3 different entrances. The door we will use to enter the building changes and no one really knows beforehand which door we will use. One day, I was at the front of the line and since it was raining, I assumed we would use a certain door, but as I made the left turn to go to that door, the supervisor at the back began screaming at us to use the other door. Same thing every day! The only thing that is the same very day is that nothing is the same.
We all have to stay consciously aware of every thought, word and action we take every day. Only then can we be prepared for changes that come our way. What changes are you dealing with these days?
Jose Mendoza-Alvarado #02186366
January 24 2021
First and foremost I am giving a shout out to Write A Prisoner for the amazing services it provided me with. Life has been good to me like future’s song. Even though I’m on lock I still continue to strive to better myself. I always count my blessings and thank my higher power for keeping my fam safe during these hard times. I’m in here vibing with my cell mate and I’m currently bettering my art skills and writing new music. I simply strive in any environment and remain positive throughout this whole Covid ordeal.
I appreciate you taking the time to read/look through my profile. I also appreciate any letters and support that I receive while being locked up. Looking forward to the day I finally touch down and use every skill set I have to the best of my ability to become a positive and productive member of the community. Always remember that a major part of being a man is recognition and respect. Any man who doesn’t want that respect should check themselves. Once you make a choice in life, as a man you should accept whatever comes with it.
January 21 2021
“This world is so full of judgment, so full of anger, and so full of hate…..Whatever happened to helping your neighbor, long before it became too late? We look down at the outcasts of our society, as though they are inhuman, not much better than a roach. But when we look in the mirror, why are we so beyond reproach? Our speech has become so hateful, so divisive, and yet so free?! When all we're speaking is death, and not life, that doesn't sound so free to me! Just when did we become so divided, so uncaring and selfish, as a whole? How much longer can we die, before we lose what's left of our heart and soul? It's past time we return to love as our compass and our guide...so that maybe if we abide in it, in us love may abide. Why is it so hard for people to love and speak life, instead of hate? It seems we will not learn until we're faced with that impending moment, of it being well beyond too late”.
Life is too short and precious, a gift to waste being angry, resentful, and hateful. When joy is missing from your life, give love a try; I promise, it never fails. Let love be your guide, even when it hurts. And when you feel that love isn't enough; love a little harder, a little deeper, and a little longer. Let love never fail in you!
1st Corinthians 13:4-8
January 19 2021
I like knowing I can put a smile on someone's face. I know there is still good in me. I'm willing to show it.
I'm a man that is not perfect, but does have good intentions and always looking for ways to better myself.
Hope this is the beginning to a new friendship/or more.
Thank you and have a good day.
I Am a Man Dreaming a New Dream
January 13 2021
Dreams live inside all of us. Daydreams or night dreams inspire us, comfort us, give us direction and purpose. Dreams tell us something about what is really important to us, what we most care about, what we most desire. Sometimes life brings us exactly what we have been dreaming of. But sometimes life shatters our dreams, shredding them to pieces and throwing them into the fires of our suffering.
This doesn’t mean that our dreams were wrong or that we shouldn’t dream again. It means that what was true at one time is no longer. It means that life has called us to let go of that dream, to surrender to the truth of what is happening now, and in that surrendering, to begin to grow beyond what we have been able to imagine for ourselves. Only if we can let go of dreams that are no longer real, that no longer serve us, can we open fully to the present and let ourselves begin again. Out of our surrender, out of our willingness to accept the present reality and our lost dream will come something new.
We make space to become a man dreaming a new dream.
The Justice System is a Joke
January 12 2021
“The Justice System is a Joke” is the name of a book that I'm struggling to put together. I'm 42 years old and the things going on in the news, I've been going through almost all my life. I've just been fortunate enough not to have been shot and killed by police in Chicago, one of the most corrupt cities on the map. Instead of being shot and killed, I've been sentenced to die slow in prison for 42 years for a crime I had absolutely nothing to do with. To top it off I wasn't found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. I was found guilty for a murder where an individual was shot and killed. Mind you, I’m the only person implicated in this time. I was found guilty for killing this individual by gunshot, but was found not guilty for shooting the gun that caused the death to this individual. Does this make sense to anyone?
“The justice system is a joke” see people versus Allen McCray, a witness testified detectives made him sign false statements or they would charge him with the crime. I guess since it wasn't caught on camera like all the other times officers were caught in lies due to them being recorded, their word is gold when they say they didn't threaten this witness, like they would testify they threatened this witness, confessed to a crime?
“The justice system is a joke” and needs to be fixed immediately.