My Daily Journal in Federal Prison

Day 128

I saw a young kid getting his first prison tattoo the other day, a Hispanic guy who couldn’t have been more than 18 or 19 years old.  His choice of branding?  “MISUNDERSTOOD” — in sweeping, elegant, script across the top of his chest.  Really?  I mean, is there really that much to understand?  Do the recesses of his psyche run that deep?  And what happens when he gets older and wiser and he is FINALLY understood?  Will he regret the indelible ink?  Will he reserve chest space on top of this tattoo for a “PREVIOUSLY”…or maybe a “FORMERLY”?

*There is an inordinately large number of inmates here (primarily black & Hispanic) who subscribe to the school of thought that it is not gay to be on the receiving end of a blowjob that is administered by another dude.  I am not a subscriber.

*I miss smoking.  I miss everything about it.  If it was still allowed in prison, I would smoke like a fiend, a chimney, a choo-choo, or any other cliched metaphor.  I’d even smoke the metaphor.  Save me the vitriolic responses — I realize and respect the health risks.  Fellow and former smokers will likely understand — yet something tells me that I wouldn’t be on the receiving end of such vehement admonitions if I admitted to missing drinking, or fast food hamburgers, or riding on a crotch rocket at high speeds without a helmet.

I miss the compact heft and the snug shrink-wrap on a fresh pack of smokes.  I miss the pull and release of the silver foil blanketing the tightly packed cigarettes.  I miss the strike of a wooden match and the subsequent scent of its snuffed essence.  And, most of all, I miss the euphoric buzz of the first smoke after a long nicotine-free respite.

While it would be impossible for me to say that I will never ever smoke again, I would nonetheless be pretty silly to pick it up again once I got out of here.  These past 4 months are most likely the longest that I’ve gone without a cigarette since I’ve taken it up in college, about 15 years ago.  By a heavy smoker’s standard, I probably wouldn’t compare…but I still smoked often enough to be considered as such — usually about a pack every two days.

I can, however, say with all honesty that I’ll never smoke again while in the Joint.  Aside from the obvious reasons of serious disciplinary sanctions if caught, the inmates have, for the most part, resigned themselves to smoking the re-rolled tobacco pulled from the spent butts of the prison guards’ smoke breaks, rescued directly from their outdoor ashtrays.   (The cigs are then lit with a “lighter” made from batteries, speaker wire, and a piece of tissue paper.)

Shortly before I got on the compound, real packs of cigarettes were fairly prevalent, having been smuggled in by an actual guard in our Unit.  Going for $100 a pack, the guard would score up to several thousand dollars a carton (with money being wired to him from the outside from the inmates’ friends & family) and would also look the other way while the inmates smoked in the bathroom.  Apparently, this all came to an abrupt halt one day as he was being lead off the compound in handcuffs.

*Lunch:  Cheeseburger, French Fries, Salad with Italian Dressing, and a bag of Famous Amos‘ Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.

*Dinner:  Roast Beef, Roasted Potatoes, Gravy, and Cabbage.


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