If You Like What You Read

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Great Escape

The day McMullen left was a day like any other day. Routine is the routine in jail. The same things happen the same time every day. The saying everybody says sooner or later is, "Same shit, different day." (Great place to work, huh?)

Okay, I really don't have anything else to say about McMullen's escape. I just figured I should at least try a little bit to comment on it. I mean, it is allegedly the main event of this whole sordid tale. Allegedly. It's just that is was so damn uneventful and, to be completely honest (despite what I say about being a liar and telling truth about lying), looking back on it all now, so damn easy. Yeah, it was easy. I mean, the freakin' guy just walked out the freakin' front door! Literally. Just walked right out the front door. They LET him out. He had on street clothes and a fake ID and just walked out the fucking front door like he owned the damn place. It was beautiful. It went smoother than a new born baby's wet butt sliding in the bath tube. Which makes for a very happy escapee and accomplice, but unfortunately, doesn't make for good drama. I mean, you could only imagine what McMullen was feeling as he made his way out through the various steel gates like he was Maxwell Smart or something. He must have been shitting bricks. But other than that internal bit of high drama, everything external was normal, calm, cool and collected. A walk in the park. But life is like that too sometimes I guess. You see someone from the outside and really have no idea what's going on inside them. All hell could be about to break lose in there, but you wouldn't know it just by looking at them. Anyway...

Maybe I'll get to ask him about it someday, what it felt like just walking out of that god-forsaken place. He's sent me a couple of letters since. No return address or anything that might indicate where it came from of course, but the letters felt warm in my hands when I received them, so I can only assume some place tropical. He did mention an obscure beach in Puerto Rico once, but that would be a shot in the dark as to his current whereabouts. It doesn't matter anyway. Free anywhere is better than being in jail. At least I think so. Maybe I'll have an experience someday that teaches me otherwise, but until then, I'll take my chances it's true.

The end, sort of.

Just Breathe

Hell is real. I can vouch for that. I worked there. 9 to 5. Pretty good pay. Good benefits. The devil's a tough boss though. Not fair at all. He'll work you hard and make you think you're lazy as shit all the while you're busting your ass for him. The more good you do the more bad you'll think you are. He's the Baskin-Robbins of fear and guilt. 31 flavors. And he plays minds games 24/7 to get you to taste any and all of them, hoping you'll like it and become a regular paying customer. From there, it's all downhill until you wake up and see the game. Yeah, his mind is way sharper than mine right now, that's for sure. At least for now anyway. I'm catching on though, not of my own doing of course. His biggest flaw is, he doesn't want you to succeed at ANYTHING, because your success would hurt him, in his mind anyway. At least anything that's worth succeeding at. It's actually the exact opposite of that though. It's a razor's edge sometimes and can take a while to understand, but it's really quite simple once you do...

What we think of our fellow man we think of ourselves.

And I don't mean that in a general roundabout kind-of-way. I mean every stinkin' little tiny thinkin' thought we think. What we hold true about others we hold true about ourselves because somewhere in the back of our mind we know we are all one. The same Great Being just individualized, but not separate. Once you understand that basic principal though, through and through, you stop shooting yourself in the foot, somewhat. Things will begin to change, almost magically. And then after that, you start to realize that maybe there is a way you can get can back to heaven without actually having to die. I know, I know... it's hard to believe. But that doesn't mean it's not true. And not just because somebody said it was or wasn't so. Experience is the only credible witness in any world, spiritual or otherwise. But if you're not willing to experience something, you usually won't. At least not as soon as you would if you were more more agreeable. Anyway... I don't seem to be going anywhere with this now anymore... so, maybe I'm already there?

Was it Douglas Adams who coined the phrase, "The hours are great, but the minutes suck."? That's what working in hell is pretty much like. It gets worse, but why would you want it to? Surrender. Why be a masochist about it? Don't get me wrong, you can work somewhat comfortably in hell. You can even work there and not work for the devil. Kind of like a subcontractor for the Other Side. In which case it won't be so bad most of the time. But it'll still wear on ya, and after a while and you'll have to get out, just to keep your sanity, and not start believing black is white and up is down and right is wrong and bad is good like everyone else in hell does. And that's your job while you're there I guess. To convince them otherwise. Or at least try. But like I said, it starts to wear on you after a while, and you'd just as soon move on up to a better position in the grand scheme of things than stay there trying to prove your worth or something. You can't teach a pig to sing. It's a waste of your time and only annoys the pig. (Thanks to somebody out there that wrote or said it. It's stuck with me all these years.)

Jail is not a good place no matter what anyone tells you. For whatever reason. There are no jails in heaven. Would you want there to be? No, of course not.

Fuck. Life is hard. Too hard. I can't rely on just myself anymore. It's too hard. And why? For pride? Pride? What have I got to be proud of? I have nothing without God. Not a damn thing. For what could I have that He did not create? Assuming you believe in Him in the first place? It goes way beyond belief though, that's for sure. It goes to your very breath of life. Breathe in life. Breathe it out. Passion. I'm alive. I just want to breathe!

"All I want is to breathe... Won't you breath with me?"

If so, read on.

Tidiology 101

Tidiology  n. 1. The study of boredom.

Does anyone else have issues with boredom? Seems my whole life I've struggled with it. I mean, I hate being bored. It just sucks. Let's face it, boredom is just plain boring. And to be truthful, attempting to deal with it has led me down some pretty precarious roads to say the least. [sigh] I just don't like being bored. It's no fun. I like to be busy at something. Not necessarily stuff like fixing the doorknob or some other household task, a handyman I'm not. If I had the funds I'd much rather pay someone who enjoys working with his hands and fixing things. (Remember Bob Nehart's handyman at the inn? What was his name? That's who I'd hire!)

But I do like to be about productive activities.  I think we all do though. You just feel better. For whatever reason, metaphysical or otherwise, you feel "with it" and life is good. And to me, boredom is the exact opposite of that way of being. Not that I don't like to relax. But to me relaxing is just doing something interesting at a much slower pace. I don't know, maybe I'm like some kind of shark, I just can't stop swimming or I'll drown.

In light of that question above, it now seems pretty ironic that I spent a good part of my life working in a fucking jail. I mean, what place on earth could be more boring than a prison? Creativity is not a word even known to such people who run such places. They are all about the opposite. Control. And the more they have, the more they want. Control freaks run jails. They are in control of many, and the many they control, control many, and the many they control, control many, and so on down the line... Equality is also not a word known so much in such circles of thinking.

So how the hell did I end up in such a place? Well, it appears to be true. What you fear, you become. All my life growing up, I was afraid of being bored and being controlled, so what happened? I ended up being bored and controlled. Now when you're forced into such a corner, you can make one of only two choices. You join the "party" and become what you fear (which incidentally doesn't solve the problem either) or you can say, "No thank-you, I'm going home. Homey don't play that game." So in that sense, I guess working in a jail helped me. It forced me to answer the question once and for all of whether I truly believed all human beings to be equal and direct expressions of an infinitely loving universe or, if I believed in a chain-gang hierarchy of insecure assholes and paranoid sociopaths reaching up from here to the moon, all operating on the belief that fear, guilt, pain and punishment were justified based upon some allegedly evil pasts and speculatively dangerous futures of mere monkeys* who now walked upright and had the ability to think, talk and act like mere men. I suspect I made my choice long before arriving at Garden Valley State Prison, but the next 20 or so years of employment there would definitely cement my opinion on the matter for all eternity, so it was well worth my time there in that regard.

So yeah, it IS in fact true, what you fear you become. Like attracts like. Birds of a feather flock together. Fear attracts fear. Until you face it. Then you either stop fearing it (because you remember you stopped believing in fear as a means of control a long time ago) or you succumb to it; in which case you remain still imprisoned by it, awaiting your next "blessed opportunity" to face it and rise above it, by letting it go by the simple act of not believing in it anymore. It is that simple; but not always easy. Fear is a camouflaged chameleon not always easily exposed and often placed on the endangered species list by people who should know better but apparently don't. Truth is though, we already know fear is no way to run a universe. We just forget at times. I mean, it's been scientifically proven not to work. It's luuuuuuuuv, baby! Love runs the universe, despite apparent evidence to the contrary. Yeaaaaaaaaaaah, baby luuuuuv!

[*In no instance here should the reader attempt to make any connection between the use of the word monkeys and any of the common populations often found residing in prison settings. The sole reference in using the word was to contrast the broad theory of evolution versus the specific truth of who we ALL (despite race, creed and/or color) might really just divinely be. In any case, readers looking for trouble will undoubtedly find it, though not coming from this unevolved author.]

Not Much To Say Today

I just have nothing to say. I mean, what's the point? It matters not one iota in the GSOT (grand scheme of things) whether I post here or not. God still wins. God still has His way. I mean, fer cryin' out loud, He's freakin' God fer cripes sake! He's gonna get His way. In fact, I suspect He already has it. So whatever I think, say and/or do is not going to throw Him off His game in any way, shape or form. However, it may throw me off mine. And there in, as they say, lies the rub.

If what we're doing is not making us happy, then what we're doing IS in fact, a fucking waste of time. I don't mean happy like I-just-had-an-orgasm-happy, or I-just-got-stoned happy, or I-just-won-a-shit-load-of-money happy. I mean happy like Aaaaaaaaah-that's-fucking-soul-satisfyingly-fuckingly-good happy! Happy-that-can-not-be-fucking-explained-happy-but-can-only-be-experienced-fucking-happy. I mean, happy-you-know-this-is-what-you're-designed-to-be-and-do happy.

Unfortunately working in a prison was not any of the above. It was, in fact, the exact opposite. I mean, who the fuck grows up and says, "Gee, I wanna work in a prison!"? No one. One may come to the decision to do so with the expectation that it will indeed make one happier than one is at the present time in regards to his current situation of employment and life in general, but no one ever sets out with the intent from a young age - such as a schoolteacher, firefighter, ballplayer or any other number of professions one might aspire to - to work in a fucking prison. They just don't.

So the question is, "Well, then how in the hell do they end up working there in spite of such lack of intention?"

Hell if I know. It must be something in the subconscious or below it, or above it. I only knew I wanted out. Out and never to return. Never ever, ever, ever again. No matter how many lifetimes I had left. I was not happy working there and foresaw no time in there near or foreseeable future when I would experience such a universally-desired state-of-being. I'd come to the conclusion that no man deserved such a fate, no matter what the crime, because the crime of locking a human being in a cage trumped any atrocity ever committed. After 20 years of working in a jail I was convinced there had to be a better way. I damn sure didn't know what the hell it was, but I was also just as damn sure there was. Maybe someday I'd discovery it, but until then, I wanted no part of the current methods of justice and rehabilitation the great state of New Jersey was implementing. 

Add it all to the number of reasons I decided to help McMullen escape jail. Symbolically he was me. Symbolically he was every man trying to escape the system. Symbolically he was two-hundred and fifty thousand fucking dollars.

...No, check that. Literally he was two-hundred and fifty thousand fucking dollars, since that's what he was paying me to help do it. And that did make me happy. Fuckingly happy.

Heaven or Hello?

As mentioned earlier, many people think you have to die to go to heaven. And I guess I sometimes too fall prey myself to that particular belief... but is it true? Well, before I can know if it's true, I have to know what heaven is, and I guess (gulp!) what dying is, at least to some degree? And even before that, if I even believe in such ideas. I mean, if I don't believe in the idea of heaven and hell (whatever is meant by those terms), then it really doesn't matter what the hell I think I have to do or not do to get there. Any acts, or random occurrences for that matter, are irrelevant as to any outcome I don't believe in. Hell, they may not even be relevant to the ones I do.

I do believe in heaven and hell though and I don't believe you have to die to get there. It doesn't make sense if you really think about it. I mean, if you die, and then you go to heaven (or hell), aren't you still alive? I mean, if you're not conscious to experience something, then what does it matter what it is? And if you are conscious of something, then guess what? You're alive! You're not dead! So the idea of dying to go to heaven, or hell for that matter, is fraught with erroneous assumptions and logical errors. (Logical errors?) In fact, dying is not a factor in anything really, at least not in the sense of not existing. Nonexistence is not an option as far as I can tell. I mean, if I didn't exist, who would be there to know it? "Exactly!", you might scream at me. And "Who's on first? No, second base!" would be my response. Anyway...

Inmate McMullen and I and Java the Hutt were not the only absurd characters about to commit the unmentionable act in this macabre story of sordid affairs. I say "unmentionable" because any talk of the word "escape" in a jail is akin to offering a vampire a garlic sandwich. Or something like that. You just don't speak of it. Not even in humor. The last thing good people in charge of keeping bad people in cages want is to get embarrassed. And someone escaping from jail would be very embarrassing to say the least. But there were other bit players here and there who were accomplices, unknowingly for the most part, but some, quite knowingly, if only for the sport of just doing it to see if it could be done. They knew about it, or heard about it, and a tiny little part of them said, "Yes!" I heard afterwards there was even a significant amount of money bet on the outcome, with the UES (underdog escaping scenario) making a nice 10 to 1 profit for those so inclined to take such kind of chances with their hard-earned tax-payer-funded state pay.

Well, the plan worked. McMullen got out and I got my money and Java got his, and the fucking bookie got his and we all lived fuckingly happily ever after. The end. Now you don't have to read anything else written here, because you know the ending. But everybody knows the ending of every story ever told anyway. It's the beginnings and the middles that are really the best parts of any good story. And they never end. So read on if you so choose. Or read back. To be honest, it's all going in the same direction anyway. All roads lead to Rome, to not coin a phrase.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Fun Fun Fun

Hell n. 1. Any unacceptable situation occurring in time ranging from minutes, hours, days weeks, months, years and/or lifetimes. (A trip to the New Jersey DMV is no picnic either.)

What if heaven is really not that much different than where we are right now? Same things, but only everything is in it's proper place, properly understood, and properly used? Of course, there'd be no death or disease, and you'd get to live forever. If you wanted to. If not, you could still do all the same stuff we continue to do right now, the way we understand and do things... it just wouldn't be as much fun. The choice of how we experience things would still always be there. Sort of. I mean, there are some things you just can't choose. Like being born. Well, maybe you can, and we're just not aware of how we choose to do it? I don't know. A better example might be existing. You can't choose to exist. Or to not exist. You just do. Am I getting closer? No? Okay, well never mind. It's not important.

Fun. Now there's a word I seem to have lost familiarity with lately. And I'm a guy that likes to have fun. Of course, we all know where fun can lead if you don't pay attention, but that's another story. In itself though, fun is fun. It's good. It's fun! It's not a bad thing, like some people might have you believe. Those types of people are usually not very much fun though and I usually avoid them. (Funny how that works.) Anyway... fun, yeah...

Fun n. 1. The ability to see past other's erroneous perceptions and false ideas about who we are or might be and still do whatever you want without guilt, fear and/or shame, all the while watching with a detached curiosity at their utter dismay as to why they're not happy and why their own life didn't work out exactly the way they thought it would.

Actually, that's really not that much fun when you think about. I'd much rather be on a warm beach somewhere, cool breeze, watching waves break, salt in the air, surfers wiping out, and girls bouncin' around in bikinis, and airplanes pulling signs for stupid places I'll never go, and mysterious men in black trench coats wearing dark sunglasses slinking around in the b.g. everywhere, spying on us all...

[What was that?!... Hold on!... Okay, I have to stop writing now! My time is running out! They're almost here! I can feel them approaching! And when they do, they will not like me communicating such ideas herein to the unwashed masses, not to mention me helping McMullen escape jail! I will be up shit's crick without a paddle! Or even a boat! So I have to sign-out now. Immediately! I think someone’s at the front door! Hopefully you will hear from me again soon! If not, keep both your eyes and ears open, but more importantly, your heart. That's what they want. Since they don't have one themselves. And don't take any wooden nickels. At least not government-issued ones.]

Okay, sorry... false alarm. It was just the mailman dropping off some beef jerky I ordered from Hawaii.

Friday, March 2, 2012

DISCLAIMER! Warning! Don't try this at home!

The specific details of exactly how I helped McMullen fly the coop are a bit touchy to describe, to say the least. I mean, apart from being self-incriminating, they are also a blueprint for someone else to do it; assuming I describe the procedure adequately. So maybe I should write a disclaimer?

{DISCLAIMER! WARNING! Do NOT try this at home! I am not responsible for any screw-ups if you get caught. In fact, read the blog heading again if you have to.}

But anyway, I'll try and give you the basic idea and you can fill in the blanks yourself...

I wore two sets of clothing about a week before the actually escape day. One set underneath the other. Under my polo shirt I wore another white, button-down dress shirt. I rolled up a black tie and stuffed it in my pocket and left it with the dress shirt in an empty unused locker inside the staff bathroom, along with some nice khakis and an extra pair of socks, the actual morning of the escape. Until then I kept the extra set of clothing locked in a desk drawer inside my classroom that I made sure only I had the key for. I did this by getting a friend in maintenance to hacksaw the key I needed off an allegedly impregnable key ring. I learned a long time ago that if you wanted to keep anything secure, don't use any storage cabinet or closet that had a prison lock on it because the keys were easily available to anyone, especially the C.O.'s who, let's just say were not always the most trustworthy of individuals in the place. The running joke there was, "What's the difference between a correction's officer and an inmate? Answer: One of them got caught. [Ouch! I know. And if you're a good C.O. reading this who took pride in your job and treated everyone fairly and honestly, then my sincere apologies. But if you're not, then go fuck yourself.]

Every staff member had a set of key rings issued by custody that gets stored in a secure key cabinet before and after your work day. You come in in the morning, punch in your key code on a small keyboard panel on the front of the box and take your keys out. Same procedure just reversed before you go home. Anytime before or after those two events, anyone could get your keys out and use them. The key codes were about as secure as a hooker's hoo-hah at a drunken sailor's convention.

So I had the only key to the drawer with the escape clothes in them. They were secure and I moved them into the staff bathroom just outside my classroom the morning of the escape. The tour from China would be coming through my classroom sometime between 10:00 AM and 11:00 AM, so we had to move fast once they hit our area. I'd open the staff bathroom with my key, McMullen would hop inside, change from his inmate browns into the street clothes I planted, then blend in with tour group before the tour left our area. If all went well, he walk right out the front door without anyone noticing a damn thing. Now he couldn't actually leave with the tour group, because custody would count the group's total number and know how many were supposed to be in the group when they left. No, he'd have a better chance just walking out solo or with another civilian or two that might be wandering out the front gate just before lunchtime. But the tour group would provide the necessary cover till he could slip away from them and make his, what I'm sure can only be described as, "intense-yet-still-somewhat-controlled mad dash for freedom."

Oh, almost forgot to mention about McMullen's fake ID. Needless to say, with Photoshop and a decent printer, that lttie task was so easy to accomplish it's almost not worth mentioning. But I did anyway just for the sake of accuracy. So there you have it, the basics of my simple, yet highly effective plan to help one Jerome McMullen escape one Garden Vally State Prison one fine spring day.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

An Idea Who's Time Has Come (Again)

What do we need today?! We need good ideas! Good ideas to help all people!

Well, at least the one's that want and need help, which is pretty much everybody I know.

One good idea is that ALL people, regardless of race, creed, color, sex and/or shoe-size should be able to pursue their own individual ideas of happiness, as long as those pursuits don't interfere with another's right to do the same. This is not a new idea. It's actually been around for quite some time I suspect. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." (Because you ARE having them do unto you by doing unto them whether you realize it or not. But that's another story for another day.) "What you give is what you get." "Live and let live." That sort of thing...

Beyond that, is there really any other idea we need to worry about? If we just keep that one idea in-mind and try to never violate it - and when we do, make amends to correct the error in judgement as soon as possible - wouldn't things have to change for the better for everyone who sincerely believed and practiced the idea? And throw in the attitude of actually "helping" another pursue their dreams of happiness (instead of the current popular philosophy of SYNFTSTGANWATGOHDTRL) and well, seems to me like we'd have a golden pathway to heaven itself. Or at the very least, a better life.

(*Screw Your Neighbor For The Short-Term Gain And Don't Worry About The Gates Of Hell Down The Road Later)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Writer Writes About A Writer Writing About Writing

It appears that I am a writer. The quality of that activity left to be judged by others more qualified than myself, but a writer nonetheless. And how does one know when one is a writer, I mean, a TRUE writer? (Whatever I mean by the word "true".)

[Isn't it nice we can always question the meaning of any word ad infinitum never getting to the bottom of anything? Reductio ad absurdum idiotica? Well, no, not really I'm finding out. It can be quite an annoying habit, challenging the meaning of everything all the time. Just ask my wife. I mean, what do I mean by the word "challenging"? (See what I mean.) ...Still, there are far too many times I find myself excepting things at face-value. With that ass-covering caveat... ]

Isn't a writer just someone who writes? Broad definition? How often or well one does it, or even how much money one gets for doing it, are not really factors involved in any bottom-line basic definition of the word. A lot, a little, good and well-paid are just adjectives, descriptors of the thing itself, i.e. the one who writes, a writer. And adjectives are subjective. How much is "a lot", what is "good" and how many zeros behind any other number signifies "well-paid"?

Write n. 1.  To produce strange markings - squiggly, crooked and straight lines, solid dots and dashes, and all kinds of combinations thereof - on paper or other such surfaces that will receive such marks, that symbolize in the mind of the reader ideas and concepts about the world and reality he and/or she perceives all around, about and within him and/or herself.

Still, there are those who will judge such words above and pronounce one a "writer" and another not. I can't do anything about that, so why bother? Not that I'm above learning and improving. Anyway...

A poem (as well as song by a groovy little band called Nowville) to further clarify my position on the creative process in general...


Good, bad, right, wrong
This, is, my, song
God, love, zen, tao
Truth, life, being, now

I’m a holy little devil
Can you hear me evil angel
And I’m comin’ on after you
Comin’ on after you

North, south, yin, yang
My, friend, Kwai, Chang
Are, you, still, free?
Can, you, hear, me?

I’m a holy little devil
Can you hear me evil angel
And I’m comin’ on after you
Comin’ on after you

We used to sing, we used to dance
Now we just sit around and no one takes a chance
Our hearts are hard, our minds are old
The gloom is deep and thick
The weather’s very cold

Good, bad, right, wrong
This, is, my, song
God, love, zen, tao
Truth, life, being, now

I’m a holy little devil
Can you hear me evil angel
And I’m comin’ on after you
Comin’ on after you

We think we know just who we are
Till trouble comes along and shakes our little star
I had a dream, an awful dream
My blood was watery
My life’s not what it seems

You can listen to the actual song here on Nowville Soundcloud page.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Big Picture

It's hard to do something hard. It's even harder to do something hard badly. Winning at sport's gambling is hard. In addition to this little fact of life, I was also not very good at it. Combine the two ideas with a good dose of pride and you have a receipt for complete disaster, utter failure and total collapse. To what degree I would experience these hells, was apparently up to me, but I was beginning to wonder if secretly I wasn't a sadomasochistic.

The phrase, "Never again" was repeated so many times in my head that I thought it was my middle name. Obviously it eventually became a joke and I realized it would take more than short fits of emotion to shake the sport's gambling monkey off my back. How did I eventually do it? I didn't. It was done for me. All I had to do was not bet. There was no one forcing me to do it. I was doing it because I liked it. I enjoyed it. At least part of it. The watching and winning part. The watching and losing part I was not so much a fan of. In fact, it eventually became like eating unflavored liver and drinking warm Heineken beer.  And as the former watching part gave way to just way too much of the latter watching part, becoming so small as to almost be nonexistent... Well, I may be an idiot, but I'm not stupid.

Still, I wanted to go out a "winner". How exactly that would be accomplished I hadn't really understood, looking back on it all. I mean, the idea was to just win some of it back - "it" being the shitloads of money I'd already lost - then I would quit and go out a "winner". Even though I was still in the red overall. No matter, my pride would be spared and I could walk out of the whole sordid affair with my chin up. So what if the winner label would cost me much more than it was worth! I'd be a winner.

But with that comforting idea, erroneous as it may have been, came another one that said, "Someday never comes." And, "Just more rationalization to keep the madness going." I mean what is a "winner" anyway? More on that later I'm sure, but for now, the "going out a winner" idea kept me chasing after the great mighty fire-breathing gambling dragon with my little 8 oz. bottle of seltzer water and toothpick sword.

The problem with this type of thinking is it's always changing to meet the situation, ignoring the fact that it has no legs to stand on, because it has no principal to stand on. So when the "going out on a winning note" time comes, it's usually greeted with the "Why quit now when you're winning?" thought. And remember, the winning part is what we like. So the former idea about quitting is often overridden by the latter idea about quitting and the only real way out is to see the overall big picture and behave with that in mind as opposed to opting for the occasional and short-lived gratification of the whole unholy process. And the overall big picture quite clearly demonstrates unequivocally that the business of trying to "beat the odds", any odds, is the business of finding out in the long run, it simply can't be done. Especially if reincarnation is true. I mean, you could spend two or three lifetimes winning big, followed by a hundred or so lifetimes of losing your shirt. In the end, over time, the odds always get ya. And time is much longer than most people realize. Much, much longer. Like infinite. In fact, it goes on forever

gambling  n.  1. An improvident activity in which winning gleefully proceeds losing.

Jedi Mind Tricks

If a gambler loses a million dollars gambling in heaven, does it really matter? Is there really such a thing as "gambling" in heaven? Is there really such a thing as heaven? Are there no end to my insipid questions? Okay, maybe they're not as insipid as they are annoying. In any case, the answer to the first three questions above are "no", "no" and "I sure hope so or else why am I wasting all this time trying be a good boy."

I wore two sets of clothing the day McMullen flew the coop. Need I say say more as to our basic idea of how to escape jail without really trying? We were about the same size, so that wasn't going to be an issue. Belief it or not, we argued more over style than anything else. "I ain't escaping jail dressed like no hipster!" was the height of McMullen's objections to what I might wear underneath what I wore over top. I had no idea what the hell a hipster was, but suspected it had some kind of fashion tie-in to a beatnik, which I was probably guilty of dressing a little like at one time or another over my many years fashion trending, so I agreed not wear "hipster" clothes underneath that particular day. Anyway, a suit and tie wasn't going to cut it either. Too conspicuous. Nobody who works in a jail wears a suit and tie in jail except people who don't really work there. You know, like politicians and administrators? Anyway, the suit and tie was out as escape fashion we thought. That was until we found out about a group of college students from China that happened to be scheduled for a visit the day of liberation. Who says there's no god? I mean, what are the odds a group of college students, from freakin' China no less, would be visiting some jail in New Jersey that day? No McMullen wasn't Chinese, but we knew there'd be an American "delegation" of some sorts hosting them on their tour of paradise and the whole thing would provide a nice distraction and camouflage at the same time for what we had planned.

I'd work on the officers in the area that day, using my Jedi mind tricks on them beforehand to set their judgmental eyes on everything and everyone other than McMullen. I all had to do was make up some sex stories about the women in the visitor's entourage and throw in some political bullshit about China and freedom and good ol' Amercia and yada, yada, yada, and they'd soon be oblivious to the fact that one of their inmates of over some fifteen years was about to walk out the front door. I mean, did they know this really wasn't a "college" group visiting from China, but was really all just the veiled first steps to the privatization of all the correctional officers' jobs? If not, I was going to tell them. Yeah, the government owed so much money to China, they were selling all the prisons to the Chinese to pay off some of the debt. Of course the Chinese would offer them their jobs back once they took over. Yeah, at half the pay and with no benefits, but hey, at least you'll have a job. ...I know, doesn't sound like anyone with half a brain would believe such nonsense, but you'd be surprised at what gets passed around as the truth in a prison. Rumor and innuendo can spread like herpes in a whorehouse. It's true, there are no secrets in jail. And that bit of social science was going to work just fine for me and McMullen.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


I have to love you, but I don't have to like you.

That particular thought popped into my head while thinking about a friend's wife. I like most people, but some people, you just can't be around. You feel like you're standing on eggs, always having to watch your back lest they stick a two-foot kitchen knife in it. In short, you can't trust them to act rationally. At least most of the time. Or enough of the time that creates a satisfactory comfort level. We all do irrational shit every now and then, but for the most part, you know how someone you trust is going to act. It's not a concern. Now maybe someone else can help the alleged individual get their shit together, but for whatever reason, you can't. So you avoid them for the most part. Not because you don't love them, you just don't like them.

We all give off what I like to call a "trust vibe". And if you're tuned into it, you know right away how much you can trust someone, and also how much farther you can push the "comfort level" of it once that trust is established. Some people you can trust with your life. Hopefully you have some of those people close around you, but if not, I assure you, they're out there. Just get your trust barometer dusted off and see what I mean. Just don't forget to point it at yourself though every now and then.

So, yeah, we can love someone and at the same time and still not want to be within a million miles of their presence. I actually think that's what God invented distance for. "You don't like your brother or sister? Well okay, here's an infinite universe, go play on the other side of it for a while until you two can stop fighting." Of course, the other side of it is compulsive behavior, stalkers, people who just can't possibly fathom there could be another way of seeing things other than the their own. ...Hopefully angels intercede for thee if so. Anyway...

I could trust McMullen. And he delivered the money when he said he would. The first hundred and twenty five-grand in the trunk of the car just before I fled the country, and the second, by believe it not, postal mail. I breathed a huge sign of relief when I opened the bread box-sized package from postman and found the wads of hundred dollar bills shoved into the empty packs of playing cards. I started gathering packs about a month before the escape, from the gymnasium in the jail. Java kept asking me why I needed so many decks of playing cards. I forget what I said and he didn't care anyway, as he was more concerned anyway with the weekly payments I was making on my ungodly mountain of gambling debt. It was his comfy job to drive to Atlantic City though once a month and pick up hundreds of old used playing decks of cards donated from the casinos for the inmates. A few dozen packs weren't going to be missed, as there were literal hundreds and hundreds stacked in the back closet of his old musty rec office. And like everything else in the jail, there was no official count or accurate inventory kept of them. Least not one that, like everything else, couldn't be manipulated or fudged to cover up any missing items in question. There's more stuff stolen in a jail than stolen on the street. If ain't nailed down in there, you better not expect to see it the next day you walk in looking for it, 'cause chances are it'll be gone faster than a duck fart in a hurricane.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Choose Not To Choose

It recently occurred to me one day at work - though like the amnesic goldfish who's seemingly surprised each time he swims around the same tiny castle in his little fish bowl as if it's the first time every time, I'd probably forgotten it and many other such things too many times to remember - that we can do whatever the hell it is we want. It doesn't matter if it's good, bad, right or wrong, if we want to do it, we can do it. If I wanted to hack off somebody's head from behind with a rusty chainsaw, I can march right out the front door right now and do it. No one or no thing is going to stop me from doing it. Just pick up a newspaper or watch the evening news and you'll see it's true. People are literally doing whatever the hell it is they want and no one or thing is stopping them. Kidnappings, rape, murder, pillage, theft in all their bizarre and varied forms happen every day. Each new, unbelievable sick story is sooner or later topped by some newer, even more unbelievable sick story. So yes, people can, and in fact do, do whatever it is the hell they want. That's kind of scary. Yeah, often the doer is put in jail after the vile deed, but that's a different story. They still went and did whatever the hell it is they wanted to do. Nothing prevented them from doing it. There is though, as they say, a catch. That "freedom" to do whatever the hell it is we want is limited to only two possible outcomes. That which will benefit us from doing so, and that which will not benefit us from doing so. Pare that idea down to the smallest act like just going for a walk and it still holds true. The problem is, too many times too many people don't understand what acts benefit them and what acts don't. Mostly because they start with the wrong premise about themselves and their particular situation and then get confused, thinking up is down and down is up and back is forward and forward is back. Either that or they're suicidal self-loathing maniacs.

Whether that realization above was ironic or just damn shameful for someone who'd worked in a jail for over fifteen years I just don't know, but I knew there where no other choices, no other possibilities. Everything we think, say and do either helps or hurts us. There simply are no other possibilities. Help or hurt. And don't get me wrong. I'm not saying I know or in any way, shape or form want to be the judge and jury of what any one does or doesn't do. I sure as hell don't that's for sure as hell. It's enough to manage one life let alone any others. Nonetheless, the number of possible outcomes does not change. That idea can paralyze you at first until you also realize, it's really not that big a deal if you're a reasonable person. If you're not though and you're stubborn, the type of person that always has to have their own way in everything... well, you're asking for trouble in MONSHO*. Fortunately I wasn't. And that's another reason I agreed to help McMullen escape jail. It actually was a reasonable request when you got right down to it. He didn't belong there, and neither did I. So why not help each other get the hell out of hell?

So how do we know which way to go, what to choose? Decisions, decisions. Should I get up out of this chair right now, stop writing and go to bed? How do I know what to do at any given moment? Well, put quite simply, after many years of experimentation, I've come to the strange, yet cathartic conclusion, I don't. I don't know what to choose. I don't know what to do next. Thankfully though, that "I" that doesn't know, doesn't really exist. That "I", or ego, as some philosophical, religious or spiritual disciplines might refer to it as, is simply a hodgepodge concoction of erroneous beliefs and immature imaginings. In short, thinking. Thought. I think. Therefore I am. Confused. Fortunately though, I've discovered there's a "me" or an "I" beyond the thinking, beyond mere thought. And that "me" or "I" knows exactly what to do, and in fact, does it, and is doing it right now, all the time, automatically, without effort, regardless of what "I" (the other aforementioned one otherwise sometimes known as the ego) thinks or believes. It, the "real-I" I'll call it for the sake of calling it something, is always doing what it should be doing and I ignore it at my own peril. Not because it's mad at me for ignoring it and is going to punish me. No, I ignore it at my own peril because it's me. And even more than that, the source of me. It's only when I don't listen or pay attention to it that I end up doing the "wrong thing". Now before all you metaphysical experts, wizards and gurus jump down my throat and insist I'm still talking about the first alleged I, the ego-I, when I try and bring up the real-I, I realize there's only one "I", always has been and always will be (or no "I" if you like to take the zero-sum-game approach), but in attempting to describe the indescribable, I believe I'm getting closer to realizing that I can't, and as a consequence, ending these long seemingly unending attempts to put into mere words what for the most part, cannot be put into mere words... so just humor me for now.

So it's actually freedom from choice that we want. (Kudos to Devo for putting the idea so nicely into a song.) Or maybe just freedom from the wrong choice? But if we had that, would there be really any choices to made other than this good thing or that good thing? And is that really still choice as we currently know the word? Actually, what's so bad about that? Choice without fear. Choice only exists as long as we believe there's a choice to make. Something better to choose than what we already have or is already happening to us at any given moment. And obviously we do believe there is, because we keep having to make what we consider "important" choices all the time. Like not hacking off some stranger's head with a rusty chainsaw. Is that circular reasoning? I don't know. You choose. Or not. Choose not to choose. I don't think it really matters when you get right down to it.

(*my obviously-not-so-humble opinion)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My Last Mistake

The plan was not working.

When I finally realized that, I was two-hundred and fifty thousand dollars in debt to my friendly neighborhood bookie. I mean, all the resolve, determination, research and hard work I put into trying to pick winners was not working. (Yes, I did say hard work.) [sigh] At least I realized it.

The "plan" was to supplement my income with my sports gambling winnings. And the reason I needed to supplement my income was that I was missing a lot of days at work. Unpaid days to the tune of about two-hundred fifty bucks a day. I thought if I could make that up by winning the money betting on sports everything would be hunky-dory and I wouldn't have to worry about missing days. To say I underestimated the difficulty of my task would be a huge understatement. Custer had better odds. The last two or three years at the jail were pure torture there though. I was beyond "burnt-out" stage and well into zombie-walking-dead stage. (Which incidentally is much better than the suffering-savior-dying-on-the-cross stage.) The gambling offered excitement in contrast to my boring, soul-crushing work days and a potential way out faster than time allowed me. Or at least a semi-way out. Anyway, as I was saying... What was I saying? Oh yeah, the plan. The plan was not working.

When a plan is not working, most people think you just come up with a new one. Well, that's true to an extent. But if you're not wiser-for-the-wear from the last one, your "new" plan ain't gonna be much better than the one you're ditching. Plans are tricky things I guess. Sometimes I think it's best not to make any, but then I get to thinking, well, they're something to do, something to follow. And if you go at them the right way, I suspect they can be quite fun. They're no fun to do alone though. I found that out the hard way. If you find yourself making plans with only yourself, well, you better take a good look around and see who your real friends and family are. Don't make any plans that don't at least try to include them. Chances are it'll be a good plan if you do. It may not work exactly how you figure, but at least your conscience will be clean.

So it was time for a new plan. Yes, and come the first of the new year, I was going to begin it. I'd help McMullen escape jail in the spring. What better time to escape jail than in the spring time? With all the flowers bloomin' and baseball season just starting up?! (That was something I was going to miss, baseball season in the states. But hell, I could still following the games on the internet and cable. Well, maybe not cable, as I'm sure some foreign countries don't carry the MLB package.) In the meantime, preparation for my "time abroad" would begin immediately when the clock struck twelve on January one. And the first order of business would be to begin paying off all my debts. Check that. The first order of business would be to stop creating them. And the number one way I created debt was to try and predict what twenty-two large men would do with an oblong, semi-round ball about the size of a good loaf of bread as they ran around crashing into each other while trying to move it across an arbitrary boundary line that lie at either end of a hundred yard-long by fifty yard-wide grass field.

Okay, truth is, I didn't actually quit my sport's gambling habit on New Year's Day. (Hey, there were bowl games on!) It was actually the last day before the Chinese new year that I made my last mistake on, and it was the first day the new year (Chinese) that I'd be free forever of worrying about the outcome of events I had absolutely no control over. The Chinese New Year is great for all you resolution makers out there that fail right after the regular new year starts. You get a second chance a few weeks later to try your resolution again. It's like a do-over. It's been some number of years now that I've even had a tiny urge to do something that stupid again with my money, and looking back on it all now, seems almost like a dream. A bad one at that for sure, but just a dream nonetheless. Harmless now, though at the time, seemingly so devastating. It's almost like it never happened though. Almost. Two-hundred and fifty thousand dollars is a lot of money though. At least where I came from it was. 'course now it doesn't seem like nearly as much, with the book and movie deal and all... Yeah, life is strange, that's for sure.