Randy Halprin

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September 2007

Randys Journals

Today is the beginning of a new month and marks 12 days until I turn 30. Yikes. I didn´t go to recreation today.
I needed to catch up on some sleep. This past week has left me quite restless.
I wanted to write something I read recently from a book of wisdom. A man asks a Rabbi a question:

"Something has been bothering me Rabbi Slavery, wars, stealing land from Indianshow could all of these things happen in our country? I don´t understand.
Where was God?

The Rabbi thought for a second, then responded with a question of his own:
Where were people?

It´s almost 4:00 A.M. Rain in on the horizon as great thick ugly grey clouds are creeping into the area. I can see lots of horses out in a pasture. There are four or five really pretty horses among the others. One horse keeps wandering up to a group of other horses and when he gets close the others pull up ahead. What´s up with that? Ha Ha.
I don´t know why but today I feel so lonely. I can´t explain it other than being in this cell with no one to talk to or anything to do and it really sucks. I´m listening to KDOL, but no calls for me have come in and to be honest it´s really annoying to listen to a bunch of people talk about mind-numbing trivia while another sounds completely sauced as she talks and rambles on about Jesus. No disrespect to Christians, but this is odd.
So I´ll add this useless information:
New Cure album December 5th, a double disc.

Today has been boring, rainy and depressing. My loneliness is pretty smothering today. You know like you want to just cry on a shoulder, but there is no one there. I looked out my window and watched rain fall and thought,
God, itd be nice to run out in that field as the rain falls down.
But I can´t. I´m stuck in this God forsaken cell.

I slept pretty well last night. Surprisingly my sleep did not get interrupted one single time until I woke up at 8:00 A.M. I'm still a little down, but what can I do? I have no control over my brother or any other situation and loneliness comes and goes in this place. You take the punch but keep on moving.
A funny incident happened today while I was out at recreation. Apparently a guard had misplaced a set of handcuff keys as they were picking up trays from lunch. This sent the guard into panic mode when he realized they were gone. A swarm of guards came into the pod and began looking everywhere. About forty-five minutes pass and a jerk of a sergeant says, "One of the offenders must have it. Strip out the inmates in the day rooms and lock the pod down." The guards begin to strip search each guy in each day room. I'm next up when one of the female guards goes to use the officer restroom. She
comes out and says, "I found the keys." The guard that lost the keys then remembered he had gone to wash his hands after picking up trays and left them on the basin. I tell the sergeant, "I guess you always assume us inmates are up to some sort of devious behavior, huh?" The sergeant scowls at me and walk off.
The sun is out right now, but it's supposed to rain again.
(Later that evening) It's raining now, realistically and metaphorically speaking. Rain
pouring down, pounding against my window, pounding against my heart, pounding pounding pounding until it breaks me apart. I'm so tired of the rain, of the fate of pain.

It's 6:19 A.M. I'm about to go outside. I was going to try to sleep in and skip recreation, but because all I did was toss and turn throughout the night I told myself, screw it; you'll never get back to sleep anyway. Oddly enough, right now I'm not even tired even after only getting probably two hours sleep total. Okay, gotta go. I shall return.
8:47 A.M. I've just returned from recreation. It drizzled a little, but other than that it was mind clearing. I was going to come back and talk about how I'm destined to be without love, etc., but I'll save the self pity. I hurt, but soon that will pass. I will say that those who think being locked up is easy have it completely wrong. You're not only locked away from the world, but from being human to a degree. I've written about things taken for granted, but how about love and happiness and relationships and family and life. True freedom is an internal thing, but the human spirit still has longings, desires, emotions. I'm mostly past my material desires. Now I have emotional ones and it flat out sucks to be in a place in which emotion is used as a weapon against you. Taking my life isn't a punishment (although it doesn't make it right). Taking my heart is.
Anyway, on a happier note
while I was outside I received my first birthday gift-a Calvin and Hobbs collection that was really cool. I have some truly wonderful friends and I'm blessed for that. I can't hug them or go hang out with them, but I can let them know I'm appreciative and honored. It lets me know that I'm not ever completely (alone) in this place.
It's relatively quiet right now and I need a nap. Before it gets too loud I might write more later on.
Does it ever end? My cell has sprung a leak and I'm taking on water! Aaaah! I can't take it anymore!

Today I'm slightly irritated
It seems that TDCJ just takes and takes. Now they are start-ing to restrict the kinds of writing supplies we are able to use. Apparently, according to their new rules on stationary, colored paper is considered, and I quote, "A security risk." That's right, colored PAPER! The notice that was given to all inmates today said that the paper could be broken down and the dye from the colored paper could be used to pose a threat to security. Okay, for one, I doubt very seriously if anyone is going to dye a uni-form with bright red or neon green paper. I can see it now: a guy escapes, running across the field in hot pink. The guy in the guard tower radios to someone, "I ain't sure if I'm seein' things fellas, but I believe I just seen me a tellatubby or somethin' running like a bat out of hell across that there field. Either that or we're being invaded by them damn homos!" It's freakin' ridiculous. They can't even justify it with a legitimate excuse. What? The dye can be used as tattoo ink?
Do you realize how much paper it would take to get
even an ounce? No inmate on earth is going to pay ten bucks for a ream of colored paper for an ounce of dye. No, it comes down to control and complacency on the part of in-mates. Pathetic. Oh, and this rule was decided on in July. It goes into effect on October 1st. Of course they didn't tell us until three weeks before October. Sheesh.
Sometimes when you're irritated guards are aware of it and there are some who will try to push and poke at you. There's one particular guard working today who not even his own co-workers like working with because he's generally just a miserable soul. After I came back from recreation they pulled me out for a shower. I grab my stuff and a razor. I like to shower and shave at the same time and we usually get about 10-20 minutes in the shower.
I don't think it had been even five minutes when the guard comes back around as I'm shaving my head and pounds on the little glass window with his handcuffs. I turn and look out the window and yell over the water, "That's a little unnecessary!" I mean, he was hitting the window hard. I finish up and wipe the steam off of the Plexiglas and start to dry off really slow. I'm watching him as I do this and you could see that he was agitated. When I get out of the shower I tell him, "What's the rush? Whether you like it or not, you're stuck here until shift change." A scowl was the only reply I received.
Other than all the garbage it is a really lovely day. I should've tried to get out-side. Sigh


I saw something I had never seen before since I've been on death row. I had just gotten up from a nap because I went out to recreation at 6:30 A.M. and really exercised hard with a new workout plan. By the time I took a shower I was pooped. I get up and just on a whim I decide to look out my window to see what the horses are up to. I stood on my bed and peered out across the field and noticed dozens of white herons swoop down to land on the grass. They were so beautiful to watch. Big, graceful with their long necks and bright yellow beaks. I yelled for other guys in their cells to check them out and eve-ryone was oohing and aahing. It had to be a good omen.
Last night I received an interesting letter that had two addresses where my brother might be living. Well, one address was the one he had been staying at, and the other I'm guessing is where he's living. It's in Argyle and that's where my biological family lives. I haven't been in contact with them for years now. Actually, it's been just about four years, but I thought it would be interesting to tell the story of them.
My brother and I were adopted when we were little kids. Wesley was taken away by the state before I was and so we were separated for a short time. I met up with him again in a foster home in Dallas. The foster family had wanted to adopt Wesley, but not me. I was fortunate that I had a social worker who did not want Wesley and me to separate. Later on a family from Arlington adopted us when I was five and Wesley was two.
My parents never tried to hide from us things about my biological family. We had pictures and of course I had many memories-mostly bad. As the years passed I never really had any desire to find or contact them. I remember asking my dad a few questions here and there about them, but for the most part my adopted family was my family. Even to this day I consider my adoptive mom and dad my only parents.
Fast forward to 2002. I was awaiting my trial. My brother had been in and out of jail and fortunately for him, I think he had a sympathetic judge who gave him one last chance and ordered him to a drug rehabilitation program. He finished that and was released on probation, though he still had orders to continue to take drug counseling classes.
One night when the guard brought my mail I noticed a letter with an unfamiliar name and address. I thought, huh, a new pen pal and opened the letter. It was written in a
hard to decipher scrawl much like my own handwriting and the grammar was horrible, but I read through it and was amazed by what this lady was saying
She was my biologi-cal mother and she knew about the scar on my wrist and how I got it. She told me that she had met Wesley at the same rehabilitation place and when she heard his name she asked if his brother was one of the guys who escaped from prison. Wesley said, yeah, he is, and then she told him she was his biological mother. Wesley being the skeptic he al-ways has been said, prove it, asking how I got the scar on my wrist. She went into great detail, providing more information than he or I knew.
As I read those words I didn't really know how to feel about it. I'd always treated my childhood with indifference, not really understanding the complete emotional and psycho-logical effect it had on my life as a whole, but I was curious to know more about who I was, what kind of kid I was, etc. and so I wrote to her. I still couldn't bring myself to call her "mom" but I was willing to forgive her and learn about who she was and is.
Our first visit was very difficult. Probably more so for her. I noticed that despite the very hard years that were etched into her face that she was once a beautiful woman. Our eyes were identical. When she first saw me she started crying and walked away from the visi-tation booth. When she came back she said, "I can't believe how beautiful you are. You and Wesley have always been in my heart and I've not once not thought about y'all
" We talked and I asked her if she had changed her life. She said he had. In hindsight, I feel a bit like a hypocrite for asking that, because at the time I had yet to take any big steps in bettering myself. I was still lying from time to time and I hadn't given a lot of thought about or to my predicament.
Time passed and my trial was coming up. She disappeared (for reasons I can't disclose due to my current appeals) and I felt she hadn't really changed who she was. A lot of empty promises were made and broken.
When I came to death row I still kept in contact. I had been pushing for her to meet my wife at the time, and I wanted to build some sort of quasi family. It didn't work. More broken promises. By this time I was determined to really turn my life around. When you stare death in the face you tend to want to make life-altering decisions. I felt that I couldn't let things keep me from making the progress within myself that I wanted and was determined to make. I chose to sever ties. I held no animosity or grudge and I can honestly say that I do forgive my biological parents, but I had to distance myself from them.
A year ago I decided to write to my biological mother and tell her that if she was willing to make changes in her life, I'd love to try again, but I never received a response.
I wrote all of this to get to a point and tie it in with the address I received last night. I recently read a book called The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. It's really a simple, but beau-tiful book that opened my eyes to a few things. The book is about listening to the soul of the world and universe and how we're all connected. In the book there's no such thing as a coincidence. You have to "listen" and then decide whether you want to act on any par-ticular event. Life is a journey. But there are things that do guide us if we choose to open our ears and eyes. I haven't fully wrapped my head around the concept of fate and des-tiny or free will, those sorts of ideas, but the more I go through this life, even life on death row, I see and hear the signs. And so I feel it is no coincidence that I should be given an address that not only could lead to my brother, but also to my biological moth-er. Maybe it's time to extend the hand once again and write and let her know that I'm willing to give it another chance. Maybe the white herons were a good omen.
Not much else to report on today. I'm waiting for a good music program to start and then I plan on reading the rest of the afternoon.

It's a little after midnight and I'm settling into my new cell. I was moved from C-Pod (where I spent a month, a new record for the amount of time I'd been able to stay in a single place) to D-Pod. I was supposed to be moved into 14 cell, but as I was being tak-en upstairs some other inmates started yelling, "Randy, don't go into the cell, they just moved a guy out of there because the toilet is broken!" Sure enough, when they opened the door to the cell a rotten smell hit us and there was a big ol' Mr. Hanky floating in the toilet. Fortunately, this turd was not singing to us or telling us to brush our teeth. I told the guard that I would not move into a cell that is broken and so they put me in the day-room until they could get approval from a ranking officer to move me into another cell.
As I was waiting for my new cell, one of the female officers standing nearby asked me how old I was. I thought this was a strange question, as it came out of nowhere and so I said, "I turn 30 tomorrow." She looked around to see if any other guards were paying attention, lowered her voice and said, "Happy Birthday." That was cool.
Finally I was told I'd be moving into 81 cell. It's not a bad cell at all, but I have no view. There'll be no watching the horses for a bit

I'm tired now and technically speaking I'm 30. Five years ago being up past midnight would've been nothing to me. Now I just want to get some sleep. Good night.

Happy Birthday to me. What was that one Saturday Night Live skit in which one lady with the really tight red pants would say, "I like to kick, stretch, then kick again: I'm 50! 50 years old!" Well, I'm 30! 30 years old!
I've dreaded this day for so long. I mean, I've had a bona fide fear of my thirties. It's silly and I'm not the superstitious kind of person, but when I was 16 a weird thing hap-pened
On a dare from some friends I went and had my palm read. The lady pointed to what she called my "Life line" on my palm and she said I had until I was 32. Now, I hadn't really given it much thought until I ended up in prison. It sort of manifested itself into a reality in my mind. Weird as it may seem, I was starting to believe it. Then when I was put on death row and I calculated the average time it took for the appeals process-six years-it came to, yep, 32. I was like, crapthat figures. So, I've been dreading turn-ing 30. Even though, realistically now it can't come to 32 because the time it's taking is significantly longer than the average appeal. I'm still in the State Courts, whereas most appeals are in Federal Court by the four year mark. So I'm just being silly with my fear I know I'm not destined to die in this place. I really believe that I'll be off death row sooner than later. Kenneth Foster's commutation only brought more encouragement. I also believe that those who are around in the next five to seven years can look forward to a nation-wide moratorium. It's coming.
Anyway, it's actually been a pretty good birthday. Earlier today one of my friends sur-prised me with some vegetarian tacos he cooked up which were quite delicious. He also gave me a soda to wash it down. Haha. This evening I receiver a bunch of cards from various organizations and churches which was really nice, and a couple of cards from really close friends. Now that I'm "30" it's like I've entered some sort of club, like, ah
you're finally a REAL adult! I still feel 18 at times though.
Not much else to report around here.

I'm so sore. I've been doing this new cardio workout and it's really beating me up. Plus I jogged for 20 minutes today. I'm hungry and sore.
I haven't really accomplished much today. I've just been lounging around. My mind is pretty blank. Sometimes the days are just a blank sheet of paper. Oh! (Thank God for word association!) I almost forgot
I had mentioned that TDCJ is changing it's stationary policy. Well, I wrote the mail room supervisor here on Polunsky and asked her to give a full disclosure of what will be considered "colored paper," as rules are often left to a unit's own interpretation. She wrote back saying that she was not going to allow us to write on anything but white paper. Period. Furthermore she was not going to allow letters that come in from the outside that are written or printed on colored paper. Sofor those that do write to guys on Polunsky Unit or any other prison unit, after October 1st do not send us anything written on colored paper or the letter will be denied. This is important to remember.
I do feel this is a very broad and unfair interpretation of the Administrative Policy that was put into place by TDCJ, so I'm asking everyone who does have contact with inmates within this system to write letters and even to start a petition in protest of such extrem-ism. The rule is not about "security." It's about control. People can get dyes from the guards for crying out loud. I mean really flood Huntsville with letters, telephone calls, on-line petitions. Encourage those that you write to who are locked up to file a grievance. It's the only way there'll be a chance to have this rule tossed out. If this is allowed to slide by, as frivolous as paper might seem, they will try to see what else they can take away. I really believe that this is a test of how far they can take things.
Remember: October 1st, 2007.
I suppose on that note I shall end this entry for today.

Good ol' Saturday. It's bright and sunny. Pretty hot, too. I don't have recreation today, so I'm just lounging around my cell, listening to the radio and catching up on writing. Very exciting stuff. Actually I'm bored out of my ever loving mind.
I'm taking a day's rest today from exercising, but I'm so bored that I'm considering hit-ting it anyway. Fun!

What a beautiful Sunday afternoon. Some friends called into KDOL and gave some very wonderful and cheerful messages. Sun is pouring through my window and I've managed to stay busy all day long. In fact, I'm beginning to wind down as I wait for dinner. Once I finish up I'll start reading a Dean Koontz collection. I am not really a big fan of hack writ-ing. I think I've become a book snob and have to just enjoy good ol' escapism writing the way it's meant to be enjoyed. Besides, in my early teens I was a HUGE Koontz fan. Whenever I'd come home from school I'd ask my mom to take me to a bookstore (man, I was a dork!). CDs and books were the first things I wanted when I came back home from Kentucky. Then I'd call up my best friend Chad and we'd catch up on the latest movies.
Last night I heard a bunch of good music, but what surprised me the most was hearing the full seven minute album version song of The Cure's "Pictures of You" on that new station called "Jack." At first I thought it would be a radio edit, which is like three mi-nutes long, but when the intro went on for almost two minutes, I was like, "Hell yeah!" I never cared for the radio edit version because you have to listen to that song in its enti-rety. It builds to a heart break as the words tell a story of a guy looking back at a rela-
Then as you're really caught up Robert Smith wails, "If only I'd thought of the right words, I could've held onto your heart. If only I'd thought of the right words, I wouldn't be breaking apart all my pictures of you" After the bridge the song goes into a second movement and it just really kicks ass. It's a depressing song, but a beautiful song. It was awesome to hear the full version. It'd been way too long. Years, to be exact.
I also heard a bunch of new wave songs that I've never heard before, and I thought I'd heard just about ALL new wave music. I love when I hit music gold. You turn out the lights, lie on your bed and just get lost in it and for a brief moment you forget you're in this god forsaken place.
Dinner is here.

First, I am so sorry there were no entries for last week, but I think I threw them away. Sometimes I get so much junk I just begin to chuck stuff and whenever that happens I always lose something. Once I almost lost thirty $.41 stamps. Oy! So, this time I think I lost my journals. Then this week for the most part I've been dealing with a tooth ache that has made it impossible to do anything. This morning I was feeling better. Right now as I type this I'm waiting for my friend from Germany who posts my journals to visit. I'm not exactly sure when he'll arrive, but I'm ready and anxious. I'm so grateful for all he's done and I can't wait to tell him. I can only hope that I make a good impression on him.
Hey, time for a visit

it's afternoon now and I'm still emotionally high from such a great visitThere was a complete surprise and it blew me away, but Josef made it possible and I cannot thank him enough. Right now, I can't go into details, but soon there will be pictures that should be self explanatory. All I can say is that I haven't had a late birthday as good as this in many, many years. I mean, my heart is filled with so much love and hope right now. I just want to pour it outIn time.
Meeting Josef was wonderful. Such a calm, kind and compassionate man. Really amaz-ing. I don't know why I've been blessed to have the people I do in my life, but they've had such a huge impact on who I've become over the past few years, I can't even begin to describe it. I still don't know what my personal journey in life is or where it will take me, but things are starting to show and reveal themselves
The feeling is euphoric. Com-passion and love are like a drug. I feel I've tapped into something special here.
I'm so overloaded now. A visit like this will just knock you right off your feet and now I want to take a nap. I'm really tired. I can't wait until the pictures are posted.

Another wonderful day! So much love, so much happiness
My day started off at 6:00 A.M. I went outside and called my neighbor out to play basketball. It was a cool and easy sunrise and I thought, surely, I'm going to beat this guy's butt. Well, I didn't. I got stomped ten games to two. What made it even worse is the guy was 50 years old! Sheesh. I thought, well that's no way to start my dayHa-ha.
I came in and showered and shaved, then shortly after was called to my visit. Right be-fore I went to my own booth, I saw Mike, one of my co-defendants. He's the guy who dropped his appeals and is waiting to be executed. It's a sad thing, but seeing him smil-ing and so full of love and genuine peace was comforting. I hadn't seen him in two years, so when I passed him he says, "It's a shame, such a good looking guy and he cuts all his
hair off
" I'm thinking, "Who is this?" And look and say, "Mike! Hey, I can't help it. I'm going bald!" Then I tell him, "I don't know how you're able to stay so strong." Before I got pulled away he said, "I'm at peace. I'm ready" I don't agree with what he's doing, but I'm glad he's found peace.
So I go to my visit and we take many more photographs and have a really good time. It's all about the love, giving and receiving it.
I came back and relaxed the rest of the afternoon. Long visits like that can really be tax-ing because our contact with reality is so limited. It's an emotional overload.
Outside of that I wanted to give an update on the paper rule. Due to the outside pressure of family and friends, they've amended the rule. We (inmates) will be allowed to use co-lored paper etc. until January 1st. Now, concerning people who write to us from outside, they will be allowed to continue to write on colored paper. Those letters won't be stopped. Also, inmates will be able to send cards and note cards that are colored and have colored envelopes. So, it's all good and everyone did a good job. My only comment concerning this is, and it's important to think about: If all the people who got in such a tiff over the paper would focus their complaints on the real, solid issues, what just hap-pened with TDCJ actually changing the rule would happen a lot more with more pressing issues. Change can be had if everyone pressures them. You have a voice. You just proved it.
On that note I shall bid thee ado. Good night. Blessings. And most of all Love and Peace.

A beautiful Saturday. I'm just relaxing and enjoying the afternoon, still reflecting on the past visits. So precious and important to me. Something that my soul needed, not just as a cleansing, but as an affirmation that our destinies are not set in stone. That regardless of our situations whatever walks of life they might be, we choose and can change our paths. God, the universe, whatever it is, I believe is bendable and workable and we have to realize who we are and what we can become. I have a drive and desire now that I have not had in years-a revelation if you want to call it that, and I know now more than ever that my life does not end with this place or situation. More importantly, that love is the driving force of all things positive in this life. It makes everything and anything poss-ible. The Beatles song, "Within You, Without You" comes to mind.
So when I went to recreation I was able to talk to my Jewish buddy, "Big Foot." We talked about a lot of great things and I went on and on about how great my visits were. He's starting a new myspace page that I hope to have a link to soon. He's very passio-nate about change just as I am.
It's been so hot the past couple of days. I hope that fall gets here soon. I'm ready for it. They've already passed out blankets, but they're of no use yet :( That sucks. Ha-ha.
Well, I will just wait and wait and wait. Fall come on! What good is listening to "It's the great pumpkin, Charlie Brown" if it's not cool?
Guess I'll close her for now. Peace everyone. Peace.

Geeze, as if this end of the month couldn't get any better, I was able to make a very special phone call which was really great. And now as I type this Josef just called into the radio program. Wonderful
with these visits and with all the love I've experienced over the past few days I couldn't keep the tears in anymore. It's just an amazing wonderful thing. I just don't even have the words to express anything right now. All I know and feel is that for everyone who is fighting and everyone who has the heart and wonderful and
compassionate souls to love us guys who have been forgotten by much of the world
change is coming.
I know this.

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