Hey all, Noah here.
Each month as I am getting closer and closer to being released, I realize that this whole experience (which I initially thought would be a complete nightmare) had some positives too. I have to admit I will miss some stuff.
First, let’s discuss the things I won’t miss and get all the negatives out of the way so that we can end it on a positive note.
The Bad in Prison
How about privacy? When you share a room with 8-16 people there isn’t many times a day that you find yourself alone in your room getting peace and quiet.
If you need to change clothes quickly well, you either have to take them to the bathroom and do it in a tiny bathroom stall that rivals a truck stop or do it in front of your locker and get made fun of for the next several months and possibly even years.
I just got made fun of yesterday morning by an officer who was giving me a UA, for something I did over six years ago at a different institution. It was because someone else that was there with me decided to share this embarrassing moment with some of the staff here. You don’t live anything down in prison.
What did I do that was so embarrassing you might be asking?
Well, I showered without shower shoes when I first got to Milan FCI, because they don’t give you shower shoes when you get there and nobody was offering me any, so I just said screw it, and here I am over six years later still catching flack for showering without shower shoes. Amazing, I guess, add this to the list while we’re at it. Hell, I don’t ever want to wear shower shoes ever again in my life, except maybe if I am showering in a gym, but that will be the only exception.
How about all the counts, structured moves, and mealtimes? I know I’ve learned a lot through this about structure and know that it will be good to have some sort of structure in my life upon release, but I want to keep that structure to work and sleep schedules.
I sleep on a single bed, top bunk, with box springs, and I understand it could be worse and I could be sleeping on a metal slab instead. But I still can’t wait for the day that I get to sleep in my first hotel with some luxury bed sheets, comforter and a fluffy pillow.
I have always heard that you should splurge on a bed because of the amount of time you spend in them, and I think I am finally ready to take that advice after leaving here. Prison has made me realize how important a good night’s sleep is. I just wish I could do it with a little more space and freedom.
Phone time. Let’s face it, it’s 2019, and a 300-minute phone plan doesn’t cut it anymore. I made do with what I had over the past 6-7 years, and I didn’t cave in and decide to risk my good time by using a cell phone to supplement my phone time. But I can’t wait until I don’t have to plan out how many phone calls I can allot each person in my life each week. Or talking to people and having a meaningful conversation and being interrupted by an automated voice “this call is monitored by a federal prison” throughout the conversation and then dings at you when you have a minute and then 15 seconds left. I have way too many people that have been way too good to me over the years to try and maintain those relationships within only 300 minutes over a month.
I can’t wait to go to a gym and not wait in line for a treadmill to open up, because there is more than four of them, I don’t have to workout with six other people and be confined to one or two benches, or stations as we call them. I won’t miss the smell of 40 guys packed into a 25 ft by 40 ft room on a hot summer day where even the walls are sweating. Hell, I am into yoga now, and I can’t even enjoy the best part about it, yoga pants.
Can you imagine trying to pack everything in your house into a 4 ft by 2 ft locker? Well, luckily, I only have to fit my closet, kitchen, and a few miscellaneous items in there, but you get the idea.
As I work in the foodservice here in prison, I get access to grills, flattops, and ovens, but in the unit, my culinary options are limited to a microwave, and since the BOP stopped buying microwaves a couple of years back, we are down to two that work. Once those are gone, we will be cooking with a 180-degree faucet, that rarely comes out at 180 degrees and with increased use will probably move closer to never.
So, I look forward to not only having more options for a healthy diet but more options to how I prep and prepare that diet. Working out without the proper supplements and food has been a struggle, and it certainly impedes growth, but once again, you work with what you have.
The Good in Prison
Alright I am done with the complaining and I do understand that prison has taught me a lot. Both about myself and about what’s a good way to live.
It has taught me balance. Something I recently talked about in a post about rebuilding your image, and that’s exactly what I intend to do with my life. Restore balance, with my routine (fitness, work, leisure), my diet, my relationships, and my priorities.
I took a ton of things for granted when I was free, such as family time, the grace from those who care about me, access to technology, simple luxuries (beds, cushioned seating, food), and my responsibilities.
I am thankful for prison teaching me these things and for that very reason there will be things I will miss inside these walls.
First being, the camaraderie of going through this experience with good people. I have met many over the years, especially my friends Nate, Kyle, Chris, Ivan and so many more. I know these few guys will be lifelong friends.
If I hadn’t taken the path I took, I wouldn’t have met any of these guys, and for that I am thankful.
That is the last piece of advice I got before I left for Milan was, “Keep an open mind, you are going to meet good people just like you,” and he was 100% right.
Through my correspondence with construction2style over the past year, I have found the benefits of journaling, and my passion for blogging.
I know when I get out there is going to be an urge to work crazy amount of hours, both on the construction side and then a want to write content at night, but this is where I need to use that balance I’ve learned in here and make sure I am giving just as much time to my daughter and the rest of my family and friends.
The same goes for fitness. I have tried to build a workout routine that I will be able to continue on the outside, and I believe I have achieved that over the last eight months, working out four days a week for 30-60 minutes each of those days.
Over the past 20 months I have been very active in my recovery.
I have found a passion for this, as well. I intend to use this platform to help others that need support from addiction and stay active in my recovery. That includes meetings that I will continue once released, and weekly posts that keep me in tuned and thinking about my mental health or state.
Once again it comes down to balance, and if I get unbalanced I will become vulnerable and as soon as I think I got it under control, it could be lost.
I need and will continue to work on my recovery in order to keep moving forward.
The last piece of good things I’ve learned in prison is priorities and being grateful.
Once your whole world is stripped down to nothing, it’s amazing what you find yourself being grateful for. I know soon all those material items will come back into my life, and I wonder two years from now, will I still be just as grateful for the simple things in life, or will I be right back to square one, like it never happened?
I am not saying I am glad or grateful that I got sentenced to 10 years in prison. But reflecting back on my sentence, I can at least appreciate the lessons I have learned and the new me that I am now. I think about how I can incorporate those lessons into my daily life after release.
Thanks for listening!