This is part three in a series. The text comes pretty much unedited from my journal, written at Lorain Correctional Institution in Grafton, Ohio, during my first week there, over fourteen years ago. I think I’m a better writer now – and back then I never intended for folks to read this “raw footage” – but I am resisting the temptation to smooth out any rough edges in the interest of giving it to you as is. I say “pretty much unedited” because I will sometimes hide a last name to protect someone’s privacy or add a note for clarification. When I do, I will make such edits known by enclosing them in brackets [like these].
On most days during my three months at Lorain, I remained in a locked cell with concrete walls and a steel door between 22 and 23 hours a day. And (especially during the first week) I had only sporadic access to writing materials.
For the past year, I’ve been writing a book about my (to me, at least) quite interesting life, and my primary purpose in revisiting these journals is to aid in that endeavor. I didn’t write about everything in them. I also wrote thousands of letters in prison (and kept carbon copies). In order to save on writing time, if I’d written about something in a letter (which was generally true of the most interesting stuff), I did not mention much about it in the journal unless I had something to add. Sometimes this makes the journal’s contents seem a bit insubstantial. But I plan at some point to publish my letters online as well. Between the journal, the letters, and the book (when it’s finished), you will have the complete story.
For context, here are links to the first two installments of this diary series:
Incarceration Chronicles (First Week at Lorain Correctional Institution, Part One: 17-21 February 1994)
Incarceration Chronicles (First week at Lorain Correctional Institution, Part Two – 21 Feb. 1994 continued)
And here’s installment number three:
Tues. 22 Feb. 1994
post 6 a.m.
I shaved twice since I’ve been here, both times leaving my mustache and side burns. They say we’re to grow no facial hair while we’re here, so we look like our intake photos. But I’ve seen plenty of guys growing it; so as long as they say nothing to me, I’ll let it remain.
Unfortunately, I must give Dude back his pencil at breakfast.
* * *
After my morning ablutions, I read in Gita until chow.
Wed. 23 Feb. 1994
c. 2:30 p.m.
They didn’t get to us for testing yesterday. Today we spent the entire morning and some of the afternoon out of the cell. We took a Beta IQ test, some educational tests and a 500-plus question psychological test. We also went to the chapel and filled out a religious preference form. I put down Hindu / Krishna Consciousness. I would have said Buddhist, but I needed the name and address of a minister and I couldn’t remember a Buddhist one. Really, I subscribe to no religion, but claiming one on your forms gives you certain advantages (for example, I can have my Bhagavad-gita here and wear beads at my permanent institution).
* * *
post 3 p.m.
I received a slip yesterday which said that they had taken $4.02 out of the $8.60 in my account to pay the UPS charges for sending my excess belongings home.
A lady just interviewed me regarding my visiting list. They limit the types of people you can put on it. For instance, I couldn’t include my niece or nephews. I chose Dad, Linda, Mom, Pam and Aunt Marlene. She also asked me which three institutions I would prefer to go to. I selected Lima, Ross and Allen. They will take these into consideration; but the final decision is up to Columbus. The lady gave me a free envelope and list of visiting regulations to send home. I will write a letter to Mom and send it with that. I can receive visits on the first and third Wednesdays of each month.
* * *
I put a letter to Pam in with Mom’s.
* * *
I’ve always disliked using the word “mankind.” [I considered it sexist.] But I use it, reluctantly, due to the lack of a better word. [I eventually adopted “humankind” as a better choice.]
* * *
I shaved yesterday. I’ve been reading in Gita. (What else is there to do?)
* * *
This morning, I walked in snow for the first time all winter [prior to this week at Lor.C.I., I’d spent four months indoors at the Lorain County jail awaiting transfer]. But remarkably, not a sign of it remains.
* * *
post 6 p.m.
I hate that I had to steal this pencil from testing. I wasn’t asked to return it; and I didn’t. I have to have something to do to keep me sane. Yesterday was tough, with being locked in the cell all day and having nothing to do.
I think (and hope) everything I had to do in orientation is done.
* * *
post 7 p.m.
The Bhagavad-gita is as outmoded and full of superstition and misunderstanding as the Bible. I’ll give just a few examples. According to Gita, we have fire in our stomachs which consumes our food (15:14). Wouldn’t an omniscient Supreme Personality of Godhead know it was acid? In the Purport to 6:5-6, Prabhupada, a twentieth century “spiritual master,” refers to the sun’s “orbit.” This pre-Galileo misunderstanding is put forth throughout Gita. Then Krishna claims (7:23) that those who worship the moon deity are reborn materially on the moon. It has been proven that life (at least materially) does not exist on the moon. The “all-knowing” Lord then calls the moon a star (10:21). Devotees will say I am nitpicking because of my atheism. But I ask this: Is it too much for one to expect accuracy from an allegedly omniscient God? However, I must add that Bhagavad-gita, like the Bible, does have its moments of great wisdom. but the absurd moments are much easier to find.
* * *
“Non-violence is one of the greatest qualities you can possess, O Arjuna,” says Krishna. “Therefore you must do your duty and kill all these motherfuckers who insulted your woman. However, O Arjuna, be careful not to step on any ants while you are slaying your relatives. Heed my words. If you dutifully slaughter these Hindu bastards, you will be reborn in the blissful spiritual sky. But if you eat a hamburger, you will be reborn on this miserable earth as a filthy pig.”
Isn’t that how it is? I just made the absurdity a little more direct.