One Little Square

This is an essay for an ADX program

Eric is in a step-down unit of the ADX. It was determined it would be unconstitutional to release someone from ADX-level-deprivation to the streets, so the ADX created a special unit for people within a year of their release. They are supposed to be able to earn privileges to help them adjust to the outside world. They have specialized caseworkers that help them know what kind of programming they’re eligible for, they can get phone calls, they can get snacks, they can earn a lot of things.

Eric has not been OFFERED and programming. Through other prisoners, Eric found out about a program (all by himself) in which he could write essays for treats and submit them to psych.

Eric asked for a “nutella” for the reward for this essay

(Eric has just made his third phone call since August when he arrived. And his third phone call since 12-2018 as a part of another program for prisoners that are on sanctions. Being on sanctions at adx is a double whammy you are subject to the almost absolute communication restrictions as well as disciplinary sanctions from whatever incidents land them there. Predominantly these sanctions are removed when they hit the ADX although the lucky thing like Eric get to keep theirs)

One Little Square

A few months ago while I was in C-unit, all of the power went out, including all the outside flood/alarm lights.. although the lights were only down for about 30 or so minutes they opened up a whole universe for me.

There’s a very skinny window in all of our cells, most of them face a brick wall and nothing else … This is true of c-unit.. where are windows face what I assume is the back of another unit.. however, at the very top of the unit window is about 2 in by 3 in of “sky”.

During normal times these few inches of sky are mostly useless.. you can see a little of the sky, but the big ass flood lights kill any joy. Reminding you your freedom daydreams are a waste of time. During the evening that sliver of sky becomes a terror, burying you with light… if you don’t cover up your window at night you’re basically having eight flashlights blasting you in the face.

Things all changed during the-night-without-light (NWL) … During the NWL, I looked out the window and nearly fainted. The entire 2×3 was painted with stars, seemingly more than I could count… It was like having a bowl of freedom ice cream, double scoop. All the wonders of the universe inviting my gaze, they’ve been hiding there all along!

looking up at the stars is a passion of mine. My Da was a partial astronomer with an amazing telescope who would take photos of the planets and other galaxies. He and my Ma would sit/stand on the balcony, enjoying life with the celestial wonders … Just taught me to love all those sparkling stars. We can take so much joy from the wonders around us… It’s free and delightful!

One of the worst parts about prison has been losing the Stars. The last time I got to stargaze was at night at Florence medium, 5 years ago. Me and the amazingly wonderful (and now free)Jerry Burkholder Big J would walk back from evening wreck at the library… My neck cleaned up engaging and thoughtful convo… It was as good as non-visiting day prison could be… Big Jay would let me ramble and point out Stars, he’d share interesting things about Lilith or similar topics. And I would feel semi-complete. God I miss that guy, our walks, the Stars, the visits….

Staring out my windows sliver I felt all of the above. I could feel my wife beside me, looking at the same stars, feeling the same awe our oldest ancestors felt. 30 minutes of sorrowless, thoughtful introspection… Me, my family and the universe.

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