Sunday, August 23, 2009

Inside Xanadu

Good Morning to all,

I hope you are all having a beautiful peaceful day. it's 9:22am where I'm at, and I have to tell you that I'd rather be anywhere but in this sweat box right now. Even though it's early in the day, the temperature is 90+ in my cell. By 1 or 2pm, it will reach or exceed 100 degrees. My only reprieve is an 8" fan that does nothing more than to circulate the hot dry air, that by the way, is recycled. So it not only is it hot, it smells bad, and you don't even have to move around in here to before you begin to sweat. It feels a lot like you just worked a double shift at a greasy spoon.

On death row, (or at least where I'm at) you're only allowed three showers per week. (Mon, Wed & Fri) The rest of the 4 days, you're forced to improvise, get creative and maintain your personal hygiene in any way you can. This can be comical at best. I call my "method" a bird bath. I sit on the toilet and pour cool water over the top of me. I know this doesn't make for appealing reading, but if you want to know who I am, then you need to know where I am, and what my life here is like. This is who and where I am right now.

I want to share some thing else with you all that I prefer to call a "reality check". For the most part, I've always been a pretty healthy guy. I exercise religiously, and for my age, I'm in better physical shape than most guys half my age, (not only here, but out there as well). Not much in this world causes me to feel much fear. I can tell you some pretty wild brutal stories that molded me into the fearless person I am today, but there are hidden fears in this world that have brought some of the most powerful, strongest, wealthiest men and women to their knees. I'm talking about the "C" word. You would think that where I live, the biggest cause of death would be execution, but that's not the case. The biggest cause of death here is cancer. I've been here for 19 years now, and twice as many men have died of cancer than any other cause. I personally know of 15 people in the last 10 years who have either already passed away from cancer or who are now receiving treatment for it. So when I started to notice and feel changes taking place in my own body, I started to get a little concerned. At first that they were little subtle changes and I just assumed it was the change in my diet. (Most DOC budgets have taken enormous hits because of each state's recession. The areas hardest hit are the food dept. and medical dept.) The food itself hasn't changed, there's just a lot less of it. These changes in my body have gradually become worse over a 2 month period of time, until my concern let me to consult my best friend out there. I'm not convinced it's the big "C" because as of yet, I haven't seen a qualified doctor. That's not why I'm telling you all of this though. I'm telling you this because regardless of what the outcome is, it's forced me to pay closer attention, and realize that I'm just as vulnerable ans susceptible to these situations as the next man. No matter how physically strong or healthy I thin I am. I have so many wonderful dreams that I still want to achieve in my life. So many places I still want to see. Places, people and things that I think about and dream about every day in here. I've never been afraid of dying. It's something we will all face and have to come to terms with one day, but I'm scared to death that I'll never get to really live. You only exist in a place like this, but you always dream, telling yourself that "one day" you will get your freedom and be able to resume your life. I don't feel like I've really ever had that chance yet. There have been so many obstacles in my path, so much chaos, and right now I'm a little scared that another obstacle could be lurking in the dark somewhere. ~ Just beyond my vision. And it's situations like this that teach us just how fragile life is, and can be. My best friend, bless her heart, is the ultimate optimist, and I could not have confided in anyone else but her about this fear. Even if it turns out to be something minor & curable, it was/is still a wake up call for me. It's reminds me that this prison has many more faces than the gates, bars and fences that hold me here.

I will of course keep you up dated as I go through the process of trying to figure out what is going on with me medically. You can't just pick up a phone and make an appointment for the doctor in here. There's a much slower process you have to deal with. As of yet, I've not gotten word of when I'll see a doctor. One more think you might want to know is that "general population" and "death row" are treated differently. We here on the row are already sentenced to die, so our medical needs and concerns are not as big of a priority as someone with an actual release date.

I have lots more to say, but for now, I'll just say that I really appreciate you all listening to me. What I write here is personal, yes, but it is also about awareness. I don't want to come off as a complainer, because but for the grace of 'whomever" is in charge, I could be writing from some 3rd world country where conditions are a hundred times worse than where I am. I welcome and appreciate any questions or feedback on what I wrote here. If you want to know more about me (not just the death row inmate title), please feel free to ask.

Much much peace to your all,
BD Winslow


laura said...

Thanks for sharing more about what your life is like. I hope your health improves or you get some reassurance from a doctor soon. Your bio says you like to draw. What kinds of things do you draw?

Zengoof said...

I think you hit it on the head - that what many of us fear, as you expressed, is not so much dying, but not living. I imagine that looked in that light, being in there must force you to confront helplessness in a way that few of us Free Worlders ever have to. I am amazed at how many insights into the human condition you have. The Row is not where one generally expects "the truth" to come from. But, sometimes when things are boiled down to their essential parts, stripped bare, it is easier to see the core. Thanks, BD, for your words, and your example of strength and determination in the face of brutal odds.

May said...

I remember when I lived in Phoenix, AZ and I read in the paper that the powers that be decided to save money by cutting out air conditioning in the prisons, but the article went on to assure readers that the buildings that housed dogs and staff would continue to stay cooled. It made me feel so angry and so sad. I read from your posts how hot it is, and how you only get three showers a week, and that really strikes a chord in me. You are treated worse than a dog, there is no humanity in this. To be hot and filthy all the time is a torture in a way. It must make you feel less of a person, and you've already been stripped of most of what we on the outside take as a given as far as basic human needs.
This again strengthens my conviction that our system is not meant to rehabilitate (as so many want to believe) but to punish and forget the people who wind up inside. This is not the action of an enlightened society, and I think it only perpetuates feelings of distrust, paranoia, and resentment in the system.
I hope your medical concerns turn out to be something small. I can see how important it must be to feel good in your body, when your body cannot feel good in its surroundings.

Dexter Dama said...

Thank you for sharing more about your experience with us. I wanted to ask, since you have been incarcerated for 19 years and are in touch with your spirituality as well as with others who care for you, how do those things inform your ability to cope day to day? I appreciate a forum to learn more about the facts you have posted thus far regarding the death sentence and government, but I admit I am equally curious about how you manage to access a sense of peace or joy in the midst of your reality. If you'd ever like to share, it would be an enlightening post. Thanks again.