Two Weeks Back in Society…

The re-integration period of two weeks has come and gone. I was surprisingly able to “de-program” most of the 24/7 military structured routine that I underwent for 180 days at Lakeview Shock. One of the only signs of it lingering was my first night at my parent’s house. We were watching the news and my mom mentioned that I could sit on the couch. I hadn’t realized it, but I’d been standing at parade rest (remember, we had to stay on our feet 16hrs a day in the program every day… sitting/laying down was against the rules). When I sat down and put my feet up, my eyes teared up despite my best efforts. It really brought home just how deprived I’d been of any real sense of normalcy. Shock was completely unlike regular prison facilities. In most prisons you can achieve a level of comfort. You can sleep if you want, meals are optional, you can use a bathroom when you want, you can read books, you can have packages of food mailed in, watch television, play cards… you know, normal stuff. Granted it all takes place within a large cage-like setting and the people you’re housed with could be less than ideal, BUT there are at least SOME freedoms. At Shock? None. Hell, you can’t even WALK at Shock. You have to “double-time” everywhere (jog, basically) or march. You have no idea what it’s like to be denied such basic things for half a year straight. For a few weeks or a month? Tolerable. Six months?? Damaging. And yet the program is said to be designed to make inmates more able to “integrate” back into society?? I’d love for someone to explain how that works…


…it doesn’t.
That being said, I’m fortunate to be strong enough to not just have survived the ordeal but to have adapted back into society so quickly. In Shock we went to bed at 9:30pm and got up at 5:30am. For 180 days. Within three days of being released I was staying up until 3am and getting up around 10am. I thought that would take at least a good month to shift back to my regular hours, but nope. Three days.

So what have I done with these two weeks? Well, I’m on a waiting list for $10 a visit therapy treatment through the local Catholic Charities. I used to go to therapy for my OCD when I was younger but even after I mastered that obstacle (aside from stepping in dog shit… when that happens, my footwear gets tossed in the trash… period) I’ve always found tremendous value in having a third party to talk out my problems with, someone that can offer an objective hand of guidance and support. Am I crazy messed up in the head? Nah, I feel very stable. More stable than I expected, actually. But being that I did go through a tremendous ordeal (legal case, living as a fugitive in Los Angeles, then going to prison, etc) I figure it would be healthy to talk it out with a professional. Can’t hurt, right?

As far as a job, I’m still applying to a variety of place. Being that I’m only on parole until next April and will then be moving back to Los Angeles, I’m not overly picky about where I work. Normally I have a high standard for employment, but for less than a year? Who cares? I mean, I won’t be a janitor or work fast food… I am maintaining SOME level of standard… but a construction job or low-paying office gig is alright by me. It’s all going straight to the “California Savings” account anyway since I’m living rent-free with my parents.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not paying to live here, because there is indeed a high price. And now we reach the crux of this little “note”…

My parents possess very little in the way of empathy and sensitivity. To their credit, I think they really tried to act like they had those qualities this time around… but that isn’t saying much because it wasn’t remotely successful.

For example:
I mentioned to my mother how pleased I was that NY allowed an out-of-state person to collect unemployment for up to one year, assuring that my eventual move back to CA wouldn’t be stressful financially. Her response? “That’s very dishonest, David.” Confused? So was I. I told her, “Wait, what’s wrong with collecting unemployment benefits when while unemployed?” She said, “Working and collecting unemployment at the same time is dishonest.” So I further explained, “Mom, I’m not talking about abusing the system. I’m talking only about collecting while actually unemployed. That’s it.” Now if she stopped and said, “Oh, okay. Sorry, I must have misunderstood” then she’d have been in the clear. But she persisted.

So it’s little things like that, happening frequently, that really gnaw away at my patience.

Here’s a fun one, as well:
I saw a text message my father sent to his hairdresser. It read, “Michele… of course I love you! Younger women are the best. Can’t wait to enter the pink palace. You are a great deal at any price!” Saucy, yes? I also noticed that she had texted him quite a bit but all his responses were deleted (except for that one). But other texts that he’d written… like to me and my mom… did not appear to be deleted. Everything was in order. Only Michele’s messages had notable absences. So naturally I became suspicious. I debated how to handle the situation and ultimately decided to confront my dad about it first. I figured I’d let him explain himself, have him agree to break off his little… whatever was going on… and waive the small debt I owed him for the trouble.

And no, that’s not blackmail. Blackmail would have been demanding $500 a month for my silence or something like that. The money I expected from him was only the additional $1600 in cash leftover from the sale of my car after the remaining loan had been paid off. He had kept that sum from the cash made off the sale and left me only the remainder. My car, my money. Every dime. THEN any repayments could be worked on. The way I saw it, I JUST got out of prison and could’ve, y’know, used a little more cushion in the bank to give myself something to work with in the short term and paid back what was owed in installments rather than all at once.

With his power of attorney privileges he had fucked up quite a few things money-wise during my absence (leading to interest fees, penalty fees, and a very damaged credit score) due solely to not following some simple instructions so I thought it was the least he could do.

Plus, while in prison my dad argued that I deserved to be in there because in his eyes I’m was an “addict” because I had admitted to tripping on acid. One time, I might add. On a visit he and my mother actually went so far as to confront me about a bottle of bug spray they’d found in my car, asserting that it smelled like alcohol. Apparently I was being accused of, I don’t know, spraying misty shots of vodka in my mouth while driving? I can’t begin to process what they were thinking, but I pointed out that alcohol is one of the main ingredients in many bug sprays and, furthermore, that they had given me that bottle of bug spray themselves (which I never even used). So they tried to make me out to be an alcoholic and an addict deserving of prison because, to quote my father, it would help “build” my “character”. Yeah… staging a bullshit intervention during a rare prison visitation was exactly the opposite of the support I required. That was never apologized for.

Tack on psychological abuse from the past (my mother’s assertion that I caused her to miscarry back when I was in grade school… fucked up!) and my father’s past physical abuse (RE: multiple beatings) over the years, and… yeah. I felt entitled to have a little financial debt forgiven after all that I’d gone through. Right or wrong, it was just $1600. Sue me.

So anyway… he rejected my idea and wouldn’t even discuss what happened with the hairdresser, so I told him that if he refused I would be forced to talk to mother instead. He said “go ahead”. So I forwarded the txt I’d obtained from his cell so my mother could see it. Her reaction wasn’t anger toward him, but rather at… me? Apparently sending her such an “inappropriate” text was “offensive” and an “insult”. My dad explained that his hairdresser had moved into a new salon that was bigger than her old place, so he jokingly called it a palace. He further claimed that the neon sign was pink. Thus explaining the phrase, “pink palace”. Personally, I think it’s quite a stretch and it still didn’t even come close to excusing the extremely flirty tone of the text. I mean, come on… PINK PALACE?? “Der, the salon is big. Der, pink sign. Derrr…” Yeah, okay. Sure. Possible? Eh, maybe. But quite doubtful.

Whatever the case, I got shit on for the whole situation which wasn’t so much surprising but depressingly predictable.

And now, here I am. No job yet, which is okay since I’m still fresh out of the joint. After all the applications I’ve filed out, I’m confident I’ll be working again within the next month. I’ll be in therapy soon, which will be nice. I have an active appeal for my single felony conviction and that’s looking promising. A lot rides on it since a majority of my family seems to assume I’m actually guilty of the felony I was falsely convicted of (“offering a false instrument for filing”). It would be nice to prove once and for all that I’m innocent, but the justice system in this state has a very low rate of successful appeals. I’m making progress on a graphic novel about my experiences in prison which is proving to be a terrific creative outlet for facing what I’ve gone through and putting it into tangible context. On the dating front, my hair hasn’t fully grown back yet (it was shaved every 2 weeks at Shock) and I’m still wearing shitty prison glasses so I can’t say I feel confident enough yet to get back to the dating scene. Hell, being that I won’t be in NY long term makes it trickier since I’m not the type to just screw around but a relationship with an expiration date isn’t promising either. I also was surrounded by dudes for 9+ months so I’m a bit out of practice socially when it comes to the females. Meh. Hopefully I’ll find a chick that’s patient and understanding enough so we can have some sexy fun while it lasts.

So overall, as much as I hate living in New York, especially in the Capital Region, I’m managing. Running a lot, exercising, getting my weight back up and otherwise moving forward. But the ‘rents are a constant obstacle and my past with them is further weighing me down. If I can’t ultimately deal with their behavior, well, I don’t have a back-up place to live (yet). And I guess that’s my biggest concern right now. Other than that… just 11 more months and I’ll be moving back to my West Coast paradise, leaving this whole abysmal state behind. Can’t wait! 


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